Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Year-round tracking of White-chinned Petrels from South Africa’s Marion Island

Dominic Rollinson (FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa) and colleagues have published in the journal Antarctic Science on at-sea tracking of both breeding and non-breeding White-chinned Petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“White-chinned petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis L. are the most frequently recorded procellariiform species in the bycatch of Southern Hemisphere longline fisheries. Our study investigated the year-round movements of ten adult white-chinned petrels (seven breeders, three non-breeders/suspected pre-breeders) from Marion Island tracked with global location sensor (GLS) loggers for three years. Additionally, 20 global positioning system (GPS) tracks were obtained from breeding white-chinned petrels during incubation (n=9) and chick-rearing (n=11). All GLS-tagged birds remained, year-round, in the area between southern Africa and Antarctica, not making any major east/west movements. Three core areas (50% kernels) were utilized: around the Prince Edward Islands (PEI; incubation and early chick-rearing), c. 1000 km west of PEI (pre-breeding and early incubation) and around South Africa (non-breeding birds). The only area where 50% utilization kernels overlapped with intensive longline fishing effort was off the Agulhas Bank (non-breeding season). Our results confirm the lack of foraging overlap between the two subspecies; nominate birds (South Georgia/south-western Indian Ocean) utilize separate areas to P. a. steadi (New Zealand/sub-Antarctic islands), and thus should be treated as separate management units. Knowledge of the year-round movements of a vagile species, such as the white-chinned petrel, is important for its continued conservation.”

White-chinned Petrels display, photograph by Ben Phalan

With thanks to Susan Mvungi, Niven Librarian, University of Cape Twon.


Rollinson, D.P. Dilley, B.J., Davies, D. & Ryan, P.G. 2018. Year-round movements of white-chinned petrels from Marion Island, south-western Indian Ocean.  Antarctic Science

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 09 April 2018