Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

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Read about recent developments and findings in procellariiform science and conservation relevant to the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels in ACAP Latest News.

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ACAP funds seven projects from its 2019 Small Grants Programme – and makes a call for 2020 applications

Balearic Shearwater Pep Arcos 

Balearic Shearwater at sea, photograph by Pep Arcos

The Small Grants Programme aims to assist ACAP meet its objective of achieving and maintaining a favourable conservation status for albatrosses and petrels.

Sixteen applications were received from seven Parties in response to the 2019 call by the ACAP Small Grants Programme made in September last year.  Of these, seven projects from six Parties were approved for funding, as set out below. Notable are three funded projects to study aspects of the Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus.  Funding disbursed totalled AUS$ 134 296.

It is expected that execution of at least some of the funded projects may be delayed to a greater or lesser extent by travel or other restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Project Title

Project Manager


Examining the efficacy of the ‘snatch block’ in reducing seabird bycatch in Southern Cone trawl fisheries

Cristián Suazo
Albatross Task Force-Chile/ BirdLife International-CODEFF


Complete population survey of Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata on Española Island, Galapagos

Washington Tapia Aguiler
Galapagos Conservancy


Estimating encounter with fisheries and mortality risks of juvenile Wandering and Amsterdam Albatrosses

Henri Weimerskirch
Centre d’Études Biologiques de Chizé (CEBC-CNRS)


Development of a bird-scaring line compliance monitoring device

Andrea Angel
BirdLife South Africa


Colaborando para el desarrollo de medidas de mitigación de las capturas accidentales de pardela balear y otras aves marinas en el Mediterráneo español [Working together to develop measures to mitigate bycatch of Balearic Shearwater and other seabirds in the Spanish Mediterranean]

José Manuel 'Pep' Arcos


Factores influyentes en la mortalidad de la pardela balear Puffinus mauretanicus por la contaminación lumínica [Factors influencing the mortality of the Balearic Shearwater due to light pollution]

Airam Rodríguez Martín
Islands Biodiversity Research Initiative (IRBI)


Demographic monitoring, at-sea movements, and scavenging behaviour in the Balearic Shearwater

Tim Guilford
Department of Zoology
Oxford University

Applications are now sought to the 2020 round of the Small Grants Programme for project funding in 2021.  Total funding of approximately AUD 86 000 is available for allocation. Applicants are encouraged to develop proposals that account for the practical challenges and limitations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applications close on 30 October 2020.  Applications will only be accepted from ACAP Parties, and may be submitted in English, French or Spanish.  Applicants will be advised of the outcome of their applications by 28 February 2021.  Click here to access detailed  information and the 2020 application form available in all three ACAP official languages..

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 07 September 2020

Oldsters getting sneaky? Coordination in parental effort decreases with age in Black-browed Albatrosses

Black browed Albatross Kerguelen Deborah Pardo 

Black--browed Albatross on France's Kerguelen Island, photograph by Deborah Pardo

Samantha Patrick (School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, UK) and colleagues have published open access in the journal Oikos showing that coordination of incubation bouts decreases through the lifetime of Black‐browed Albatrosses Thalassarche melanophris.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Biparental care is widespread in avian species.  Individuals may match the contribution of their partner, resulting in equal parental effort, or may exploit their partner, to minimise their own investment.  These two hypotheses have received much theoretical and empirical attention in short‐lived species, that change mates between seasons.  However, in species with persistent pair bonds, where divorce rate is low and costly, selective pressures are different, as partners share the value of future reproduction.  In such species, coordination has been suggested to be adaptive and to increase early in life, as a consequence of the importance of mate familiarity.  However, as birds age, an increase in re‐pairing probability occurs in parallel to a decline in their survival probability.  At the point when partners no longer share future reproductive success, exploitation of a partner could become adaptive, reducing selection for coordinated effort.  As such, we suggest that coordination in parental effort will decline with age in long‐lived species.  Using incubation bout duration data, estimated from salt‐water immersion bio‐loggers, deployed on black‐browed albatrosses Thalassarche melanophris, we examined the correlation in incubation bout durations for sequential bouts, as a measure of coordination.  Our results show that coordination is highest in inexperienced pairs (early in reproductive life) and declines throughout the lifetime of birds.  This suggests that both cooperation, indicated by coordinated effort, and conflict over care occurs in this species.  We find no change in bout duration with increasing breeding experience, and hence no support for the hypothesis that aging leads to changes in individual incubation behaviour.  This is, to our knowledge, the first study to demonstrate strong coordination in parental care when pairs share future reproductive success, but a decline in coordination with age, as sexual conflict increases.”


Patrick, S.C., Corbeau, A., Réale, D. & Weimerskirch, H. 2020.  Coordination in parental effort decreases with age in a long‐lived seabird.  Oikos

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 04 September 2020

Masters student Jennifer Urmston produces a story map for the Wedge-tailed Shearwater on the Hawaiian island of Oahu

Jennifer Urmston

Jennifer Urmston in the Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve on Oahu

Jennifer Urmston is currently a Masters student in marine science in David Hyrenbach’s Pelagicos Lab at the Hawai'i Pacific University on the island of Oahu.  Her thesis research examines fallout of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters (WTSH) or ‘Ua‘u kani Ardenna pacifica after a change in highway lighting in south-east Oahu.  She plans to defend her thesis next month.

Jennifer was also a Directorate Fellow with the US Fish and Wildlife Service during the northern summer this year, when she worked on a project to document Wedge-tailed Shearwater colonies on Oahu.  She writes: “the ‘Ua‘u kani is one of the most abundant seabird species on the Hawaiian Islands.  Conservation measures including pest control, habitat restoration, and artificial nesting habitat have increased ‘Ua‘u kani populations at some well-managed colonies by up to 400%.  However, the urbanization of the islands poses a number of threats to these birds.”

Wedge tailed Shearwater habitat Jennifer Urmston 

A Wedge-tailed Shearwater flies over roped-off breeding habitat on Popoia Island, a State of Hawaii Division of Forestry & Wildlife Seabird Sanctuary off the east coast of Oahu

By collaborating with partners who monitor the island’s colonies, Jennifer updated the colony atlas for WTSH on Oahu with the most recent population counts and colony information.  She also created an ArcGIS web map to display the colonies and data layers of conservation concern.  The story map provides background on Oahu’s Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and introduces the interactive web map.  She hopes that the information about WTSH colonies in a web map can help prevent future disturbance to colonies.


"Blinded by the Light: Shearwater Attraction to Artificial Light along Kalanianaole Highway" – a lecture by Jennifer Urmston for the Hanauma Bay Education Program

As well being a budding marine ornithologist, Jennifer can bake a mean banana mango albicake.  She also has artistic skills, as witnessed by her collage of a Laysan Albatross constructed from marine debris.

 Kaena Point Jenn Urmston 1

“Kaena Point Cake” by Jennifer Urmston for the World Albatross Day Great Albicake Bake Off

Jenn Urmston AlbatrossCollage

Jennifer’s “Laysan Albatross – marine debris collage

With thanks to Jennifer Urmston for information and photographs.


Urmston, J. 2020.  Wedge-tailed Shearwaters (‘Ua‘u kani) on O‘ahu, Hawai‘i,  Seabird Conservation on an Urbanized Tropical Island.  Story Map.

Urmston, J., Hyrenbach, K.D., Carstenn, S. & Swindle, K. 2020.  Quantifying environmental and anthropogenic drivers of Wedge-tailed Shearwater fallout on a coastal highway on east Oahu.  Pacific Seabird Group 47th Annual Meeting, Portland, Oregon, 12 - 15 February 2020.  Book of Abstracts.  p. 84.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 03 September 2020

Cape Verde Shearwaters (and other seabirds): how are they doing on Cabo Verde?

Cape Verde Shearwater 

Cape Verde Shearwater

Gilson Semedo (Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, University of Coimbra, Portugal) and colleagues have published in the journal Bird Conservation International on the seabirds of the Cabo Verde Archipelago that are threatened by introduced predators, habitat alteration or destruction and residual human persecution.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Pelagic seabird populations have declined strongly worldwide. In the North Atlantic there was a huge reduction in seabird populations following the European colonization of the Azores, Madeira and Canary archipelagos but information on seabird status and distribution for the subtropical region of Cabo Verde is scarce, unavailable or dispersed in grey literature. We compiled and compared the historical and current distribution of all seabird species breeding in the Cabo Verde archipelago, updated their relative abundance, investigated their inland habitat preferences, and reviewed their threats.  Currently, the breeding seabird community in Cabo Verde is composed of Bulwer’s Petrel Bulweria bulwerii, White-faced Storm-petrel Pelagodroma marina aedesorum, Cape Verde Shearwater Calonectris edwardsii, Cape Verde Storm-petrel Hydrobates jabejabe, Cape Verde Petrel Pterodroma feae, Boyd's Shearwater Puffinus lherminieri boydi, Brown Booby Sula leucogaster, and Red-billed Tropicbird Phaethon aethereus.  One breeding species is currently extinct, the Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens.  The relative abundance of Cape Verde Shearwater, Boyd’s Shearwater, Cape Verde Petrel, and Cape Verde Storm-petrel was determined from counts of their nocturnal calls in Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia, Branco, Raso and São Nicolau. Cape Verde Petrel occurred only on mountainous islands (Santo Antão, São Nicolau, Santiago, and Fogo) from mid-to high elevations. Larger species such as the Cape Verde Shearwater and Boyd’s Shearwater exhibited a wider distribution in the archipelago, occurring close to the coastline but at lower densities on populated islands. Small procellariforms such as the Cape Verde Storm-petrel occurred at high densities only on rat-free islets and in steep areas of main islands where introduced cats and rats are unlikely to occur. The main threats to seabird populations in Cabo Verde range from predation by introduced predators, habitat alteration or destruction, and some residual human persecution.”


Semedo, G., Paiva, V.H., Militão, T., Rodrigues, I., Dinis, H.A., Pereira, J., Matos, D., Ceia, F.R., Almeida, N.M., Geraldes, P., Saldanha, S., Barbosa, N., Hernández-Montero, M., Fernandes, C., González-Sólis, J. & Ramos, J.A. 2020.  Distribution, abundance, and on-land threats to Cabo Verde seabirds.  Bird Conservation International

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 02 September 2020

Shore-based citizen science projects help define migration of ACAP-listed Balearic Shearwaters

Balearic PLOS One Citizen Science

 Spatial distribution of observations of Balearic Shearwaters. a) pre-breeding migration; b) post-breeding migration; Orange: breeding range, blue: non-breeding distribution

Beatriz Martín (Fundacio´n Migres, CIMA, Tarifa, Spain) and colleagues have published open access in the online journal PLoS ONE on studying migrating Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwaters Puffinus mauretanicus from data gathered by citizen science projects.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Pelagic seabirds are elusive species which are difficult to observe, thus determining their spatial distribution during the migration period is a difficult task.  Here we undertook the first long-term study on the distribution of migrating shearwaters from data gathered within the framework of citizen science projects.  Specifically, we collected daily abundance (only abundance given presence) of Balearic shearwaters from 2005 to 2017 from the online databases Trektellen and eBird.  We applied machine-learning techniques, specifically Random Forest regression models, to predict shearwater abundance during migration using 15 environmental predictors.  We built separated models for pre-breeding and post-breeding migration.  When evaluated for the total data sample, the models explained more than 52% of the variation in shearwater abundance.  The models also showed good ability to predict shearwater distributions for both migration periods (correlation between observed and predicted abundance was about 70%).  However, relative variable importance and variation among the models built with different training data subsamples differed between migration periods.  Our results showed that data gathered in citizen science initiatives together with recently available high-resolution satellite imagery, can be successfully applied to describe the migratory spatio-temporal patterns of seabird species accurately.  We show that a predictive modelling approach may offer a powerful and cost-effective tool for the long-term monitoring of the migratory patterns in sensitive marine species, as well as to identify at sea areas relevant for their protection.  Modelling approaches can also be essential tools to detect the impacts of climate and other global changes in this and other species within the range of the training data.”

Balearic Shearwater at sea

Balearic Shearwater at sea


Martín, B., Onrubia, A., González-Arias, J. & Vicente-Vírseda, J.A. 2020.  Citizen science for predicting spatio-temporal patterns in seabird abundance during migration.  PLoS ONE  15(8).

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 02 September 2020