Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Southern Giant Petrel populations appear stable in Admiralty Bay, Antarctica

Mary Petry (Laboratório de Ornitologia e Animais Marinhos, Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos, São Leopoldo, Brazil) and colleagues have published in the journal Polar Biology on trends in ACAP-listed Southern Giant Petrels Macronectes giganteus and other seabirds in Admiralty Bay, King George Island, Antarctica.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“The monitoring of the status and distribution of seabird populations is necessary to understand their spatial and temporal responses to rapid climate changes occurring in the Western Antarctic Peninsula area.  We surveyed and mapped Admiralty Bay bird communities and related them to climate variables—temperature, temperature anomaly, Antarctic Oscillation Index and El-Niño Southern Oscillation Index.  We recorded 13 breeding seabird species over three seasons (2009/2010, 2010/2011 and 2011/2012) and mapped 10 of them over an area of 149.5 ha.  The ice-free areas with the greatest number of species were Point Thomas, Keller Peninsula and Hennequin Point.  The most abundant species was the Adelie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) followed by the Chinstrap Penguin (P. antarcticus).  We observed that the number of breeding pairs of Gentoo Penguins (P. papua), Chinstrap Penguins and skuas (Catharacta maccormicki and C. antarctica) are related to temperature, temperature anomaly and El-Niño Southern Oscillation Index.  The size of breeding populations and their distributions have been fluctuating over the last 30 years in ice-free areas of Admiralty Bay.  Most species showed a decreasing trend from 1978 to 2012, with the exception of Chinstrap Penguins, Southern Giant Petrels (Macronectes giganteus) and skuas, which seem to be stable in numbers in the last two decades.  Decreases in seabird populations from the Antarctic Peninsula are widely recognized as a response to environmental change and anthropogenic influences such as tourism and building activities, thus highlighting the importance of monitoring to support.”


White-phase Southern Giant Petrel in Antarctica, photograph by Michael Dunn


Petry, M.V., Valls, F.C.L., Petersen, E., Krüger, L., da Cruz Piuco, R. & dos Santos, R.C. 2016.  Breeding sites and population of seabirds on Admiralty Bay, King George Island, Antarctica.  Polar Biology 39: 1343. doi:10.1007/s00300-015-1846-1.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 09 August 2016