Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

He ain’t heavy: lead and cadmium levels in Waved Albatrosses are below the level of detection

Gustavo Jiménez-Uzcátegui (Department of Sciences, Charles Darwin Foundation, Puerto Ayora, Galápagos, Ecuador) and colleagues have published  in the open access journal Marine Ornithology on heavy metals in feathers of three endemic or near-endemic species of Galápagos seabirds.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Heavy metals are a threat to wildlife, and they have yet to be analyzed in seabirds from the Galápagos Archipelago. To gauge their prevalence in Galápagos seabird species, we collected and analyzed feather samples from Galápagos Penguins Spheniscus mendiculus, Flightless Cormorants Phalacrocorax harrisi, and Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata in seven different breeding areas in 2011 and 2012 as part of an ongoing mark-recapture study. The results showed that lead is higher in penguins and cormorants; cadmium was found to be below the limit for quantification in all our samples. The heavy metals recorded did not have a clear local source related to human activities, as breeding areas are not located near populated areas. Environmental media (soil, water), marine currents, and atmospheric deposition are possible sources.”


A Waved Albatross incubates its single egg


Jiménez-Uzcátegui, G., Vinueza, R.L., Urbina, A.S., Egas, D.A., García, C., Cotín, J. & Sevilla, C. 2017. Lead and cadmium levels in Galapagos Penguin Spheniscus mendiculus, Flightless Cormorant Phalacrocorax harrisi, and Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata. Marine Ornithology 45: 159-163.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 07 August 2017