ACAP Latest News

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.

Contact the ACAP Communications Advisor if you wish to have your news featured.

Seabird mortality caused by land-based artificial lights reviewed: burrowing petrels worse off?

Airam Rodríguez (Department of Evolutionary Ecology, Estación Biológica de Doñana, Seville, Spain) and colleagues have reviewed seabird mortality caused by artificial lighting in the journal Conservation Biology.  They note that 56 species of petrels and shearwaters are affected.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Artificial lights at night cause high mortality of seabirds, one of the most endangered groups of birds globally. Fledglings of burrow-nesting seabirds, and to a lesser extent adults, are grounded by lights when they fly at night. We review the current state of knowledge of light attraction, identify information gaps and propose measures to address the problem. Although other avian families such as Alcidae and Anatidae can be involved, the most affected seabirds are petrels and shearwaters: at least 56 species, more than one-third of them (24) threatened, are grounded by lights. Grounded seabirds have been found worldwide, mainly on oceanic islands but also at some continental locations. Petrel breeding grounds confined to formerly uninhabited islands are particularly at risk from ever-growing levels of light pollution due to tourism and urban sprawl. Where it is impractical to ban external lights, rescue programs of grounded birds offer the most immediate and extended mitigation measures to reduce light-induced mortality, saving thousands of birds every year. These programs also provide useful information for seabird management. However, the data typically are fragmentary and often strongly biased so the phenomenon is poorly understood, leading to inaccurate impact estimates. We identified as the most urgent priority actions: 1) estimation of mortality and impact on populations; 2) assessment of threshold light levels and safe distances from light sources; 3) documenting the fate of rescued birds; 4) improvement of rescue campaigns, particularly in terms of increasing recovery rates and level of care; and 5) research on seabird-friendly lights to reduce attraction. More research is necessary to improve our understanding of this human-wildlife conflict and to design effective management and mitigation measures.”

Scopoli's Shearwaters downed by artificial lighting, photographs by Beneharo Rodriguez


Rodríguez, A., Holmes, N.D., Ryan, P.G., Wilson, K.-J., Faulquier, L., Murillo, Y., Raine, A.F., Penniman, J., Neves, V., Rodríguez, B., Negro, J.N., Chiaradia, A., Dann, P., Anderson, T., Metzger, B., Shirai, M., Deppe, L., Wheeler, J., Hodum, P., Gouveia, C., Carmo, V., Carreira, G.P., Delgado-Alburqueque, L., Guerra-Correa, C., Couzi, F.-X., Travers, M. & Le Corre, M. 2017.  A global review of seabird mortality caused by land-based artificial lights.  Conservation Biology  DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12900.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 10 February 2016

Potted Chatham Albatross anyone? Another 60 chicks translocated this month

For the last three austral summers the Chatham Islands Taiko Trust has been visiting The Pyramid, sole breeding site of New Zealand’s endemic Chatham Albatross Thalassarche eremita and transferring downy chicks to Point Gap on the Chatham Islands for hand-rearing until fledging.  The project aims to create a second colony for the Vulnerable species and so far has translocated 160 chicks of which all but six have fledged successfully (click here).  One colour-banded fledgling was spotted and photographed in South American waters off Chile in December last year (click here).


The Pyramid from the air, photograph by Paul Scofield

After the usual long wait for favourable weather the fourth year of the project has now got underway.  The trust reports: “It was starting to look like we were never going to get there, but we finally made it to the Pyramid on Sunday [5 February]!  It was an amazing day, despite a big swell off Point Gap, it was calm at The Pyramid, the birds are obviously having a good breeding season & we had 60 birds back & settled on their pots by 3 pm!”

Pyramid 2017

The Pyramid on the day of collection, photograph courtesy of the Chatham Islands Taiko Trust


The 2017 cohort on their plastic pots at Point Gap with adult decoys scattered about, photograph from the Chatham Islands Taiko Trust

It is intended to continue translocations for a further year, making five in all.


Bell, M. 2015.  Establishing a new colony of Chatham Island Albatross in the Chatham Islands, New Zealand.  Sea Swallow 64: 4-8.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 09 February 2017

Third Island Invasives Conference, Scotland, July 2017: abstract deadline approaches

The third Island Invasives Conference 2017 will be held at the University of Dundee in Dundee, Scotland over 10-14 July 2017.

The first two Island Invasives Conferences were held in New Zealand, the most recent in 2010, so the Dundee Conference will be the first in seven years and the first to be held in the northern hemisphere.

The conference organizers have reported on the third conference to ACAP Latest News: “it provides a unique opportunity for those of us in the fields of IAS [invasive alien species] impacts/management/eradication and based in Europe to get together under one roof with specialists and interested others from around the globe.  It is our hope and expectation that this long-overdue third conference will provide … inspiration and encouragement to the next generation of conservationists. We hope that students in related disciplines will attend.  Their participation is encouraged by virtue of a subsidised registration fee, and inexpensive accommodation is available in the city.”

Click here to read about the invited speakers, including “Biz” Bell of Wildlife Management International who studies and helps conserve ACAP-listed Black Petrels Procellaria parkinsoni in New Zealand.

Black Petrel, a New Zealand endemic 

The deadline for abstract submission is 28 February 2017, and the full conference programme will be published by April.  To receive regular conference news and updates contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be added to the conference mailing list.  Conference news can be followed @islandinvasives on Twitter.

With thanks to Tony Martin and Alison Neal.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 08 February 2017

Pollution in Antarctica: high mercury levels found in Southern Giant Petrels sampled on King George Island

Caio Cipro (Laboratório de Química Orgânica Marinha, Instituto Oceanográfico, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil) and colleagues have published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin on mercury levels in Southern Giant Petrels Macronectes giganteus (and other biota) on King George Island, Antarctica.  The Southern Giant Petrels showed much higher Hg concentrations than from elsewhere, although this may be due to a small sample “or to some local effect”.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Mercury (Hg) can reach the environment through natural and human-related sources, threatening ecosystems all over the planet due to its well-known deleterious effects. Therefore, Antarctic trophic webs, despite being relatively isolated, are not exempt of its influence. To evaluate Hg concentrations in an Antarctic ecosystem, different tissues from 2 species of invertebrates, 2 of fish, 8 of birds, 4 of pinnipeds and at least 5 of vegetation were investigated (n=176). For animals, values ranged from 0.018 to 48.7 μg g−1 dw (whole Antarctic krill and Antarctic Fur Seal liver). They were generally correlated to trophic position (assessed by δ15N and δ13C) but also to cephalopods and myctophids consumption. For vegetation, values ranged from 0.014 to 0.227 μg g−1 dw (Colobanthus quitensis and an unidentified lichen), with lichens presenting significantly higher values than mosses, likely due to year-round exposure and absorption of animal derived organic matter, as hypothesized by literature.”


A Southern Giant Petrel in Antarctica, photograph by Michael Dunn


Cipro, C.V.Z., Montone, R.C. & Bustamante, P. 2017  Mercury in the ecosystem of Admiralty Bay, King George Island, Antarctica: Occurrence and trophic distribution.  Marine Pollution Bulletin 114: 564-570.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 07 February 2017

Too much litter: Brazilian beach-washed White-chinned Petrels show an increasing ingestion of “user plastic” fragments over three decades

Maria Petry and Victória Benemann (Laboratório de Ornitologia e Animais Marinhos, Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos, São Leopoldo, Brazil) have published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin on marine debris in corpses of White-chinned Petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis on 120-km shoreline surveys in Brazil over 11 years from 1990 to 2014.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Seabirds are amongst the most affected organisms by plastic pollution worldwide. Ingestion of marine debris has been reported in at least 122 species, and owing to the increasing global production and persistence of these anthropogenic materials within the marine environment, it is expected to be a growing problem to the marine fauna. Here we report evidence of an increasing frequency in marine debris ingestion and a decrease in the amount of plastic pellets ingested by White-chinned Petrels attending south Brazilian waters during the last three decades. Future studies comprising large temporal scales and large sample sizes are needed to better understand the trends of marine debris ingestion by seabirds. We expect our findings to highlight the need for prevention policies and mitigation measures to reduce the amount of solid litter in the oceans.”

A White-chinned Petrel pair duet, photograph by Ben Phalan


Petry, M.V. & Benemann, V.R.F. 2017.  Ingestion of marine debris by the White-chinned Petrel (Procellaria aequinoctialis): is it increasing over time off southern Brazil?  Marine Pollution Bulletin

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 07 July 2017

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

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