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.

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The breeding biology of the Macaronesian Shearwater gets studied

Ana Isabel Fagundes (Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal) and colleagues have published in the journal Zoology on aspects of the breeding biology of the Macaronesian Shearwater Puffinus lherminieri baroli.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“The breeding success of burrow-nesting seabirds may be influenced by both nest site characteristics and oceanographic conditions influencing food availability at sea.  In this study we describe the breeding biology of the winter-breeding Macaronesian shearwater (Puffinus lherminieri baroli), including nest site characteristics and interspecific competition.  We also evaluate the possible effects of changing oceanographic conditions on breeding phenology and breeding success.  The study was carried out over two breeding seasons on two islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, Cima Islet and Selvagem Grande.  Oceanographic characteristics differed between years.  On a regional scale, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index was low and negative in 2011, and on a local scale, birds used areas with significantly lower values of chlorophyll a concentration and significantly higher values of sea surface temperature anomalies.  Hatching success was higher in 2012 than in 2011.  At both colonies, egg cracking was the main cause of hatching failure, but in 2011 several eggs on Selvagem Grande were deserted.  In 2012 birds laid earlier and chicks had longer wings and were heavier.  At both colonies, nests that were deeper, were sheltered from prevailing winds and had small chambers and a soil substrate had a higher probability of being used successfully by the birds.  Nests occupied solely by Macaronesian shearwaters were much deeper and had less volume than nests shared with other species.  Our study suggests that the breeding success of Macaronesian shearwaters is strongly related to nest site characteristics and that at-sea environmental conditions exert a strong influence on reproductive parameters, with birds breeding in a poor year (evaluated in terms of lower marine productivity) laying much later and their chicks growing at a slower rate than in a good year.  The influence of nest site characteristics and environmental conditions may be very important for understanding the breeding ecology of Procellariiformes and may help explain the negative population trend of Macaronesian shearwaters.”

Macaronesian Shearwater Luis Ferreira 

Macaronesian Shearwater, photograph by Luis Ferreira


Fagundes, A.I., Ramos, J.A., Ramos, U., Medeiros, R. & Paiva, V.H. 2016.  Breeding biology of a winter-breeding procellariiform in the North Atlantic, the Macaronesian shearwater Puffinus lherminieri baroli.  Zoology doi:10.1016/j.zool.2016.05.014.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 30 June 2016

Life begins at 40? Banding recaptures show that the Waved Albatross can live for four decades

Gustavo Jiménez-Uzcátegui (Department of Sciences, Charles Darwin Foundation, Puerto Ayora, Galápagos, Ecuador) and colleagues have published a short communication in the open-access journal Marine Ornithology on the longevity of Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata based on recaptures of banded birds.

Of 296 recaptured adults on Española Island, Galápagos in 2015 four banded as chicks, and thus of known age, were from 37.7 to 40.8 years old.

Waved Albatross incubating by Kate Huyvaert

Waved Albatross with a hatching egg, photograph by Kathryn Huyvaert 


Jiménez-Uzcátegui, G., Harris, M.P., Sevilla, C.R. & Huyvaert, K.P. 2016.  Longevity records for the Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata.  Marine Ornithology 44: 133-134.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 29 June 2016

Book Review: Holy Mōlī: a personal journey with albatrosses

According to on-line dictionaries consulted the expression “Holy Moley” first recorded in 1892 is a euphemism for "Holy Mary", Molly being a nickname for Mary.  The rhyming interjection is used to express surprise or astonishment.  In the Hawaiian language Mōlī is a Laysan Albatross Phoebastria immutabilis.  Showing a deft and whimsical touch, author Hob Osterlund combines the expression with the bird to create the title for her book that takes the reader on two entwined journeys: her own since childhood and the breeding cycle of backyard Laysan Albatrosses on her Hawaiian island home of Kaua'i.

Holy Moli s

Hob is a former Clinical Nurse Specialist who retired from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii and there encountered - and fell in love with - the Laysan Albatrosses of Kaua'i.  On this island the birds breed in the community of Princeville and elsewhere in the north-east of the island, laying their eggs and rearing chicks in the gardens of private houses and on golf courses.  Apart from the occasional rampages of domestic dogs and depredations by feral cats (click here), the birds are well looked after by the residents.

The albatrosses Hob observes are given names and sometimes assigned with emotions normally reserved for humans, such as love, tenderness and heartbreak – for example in the case of a hatchling called Paki.  So the book is not one to read for scientific observations but given a warm day on a North Pacific island with a hammock and a cooling breeze her lyrical writing should pass a pleasant hour or so.  Or read it with enjoyment during a southern winter as I did under a cosy blanket!

Hob Osterlund s

Half blind Laysan Hob Osterlund

Twins Laysans Hob Osterlund

As well as being a writer of some skill and empathy, Hob is an accomplished photographer, as shown by her photos in this review and here.  A pity then that her photos in Holy Mōlī are all in black and white, with that look of having been converted from colour originals.  But colour does add to cost and her cover photo of a Laysan Albatross pair is an attractive one.  The author founded the Kaua‘i Albatross Network which is “dedicated to helping preserve the vitality of the Laysan albatross and promoting safe habitat on which this magnificent bird depends”.

Laysans also breed in the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on Kaua’i.  The island is home to a livestreaming “albiecam” pointed at an albatross nest (click here).

TrossCam Hob Osterlund

The "albiecam" on Kaua'i.  All photographs by Hob Osterlund

I have been to Kaua’i and viewed breeding Laysan Albatrosses on Midway and Oahu during four separate visits to the Hawaiian Islands.  Seems I now need to go back for a fifth visit to meet Hob, a fellow albatross enthusiast and (unlike myself) a talented author.

With thanks to Hob Osterlund, who writes evocatively on her Facebook page:

“Thinking about similes related to animals.  Busy as a bee.  Happy as a clam.  Blind as a bat.  Silly as a goose.  Drunk as a skunk.  Free as a bird.  So what could we say about albatross, if a mood to draft similes (or alliteratives*) suddenly strikes us on a summer solstice?  There are a dozen stellar qualities we could choose from, but dominant among them is the impression of an almost meditative serenity.  It’s a great state to be in if [you] have to wait weeks for your meals and months for your feathers.  Patient as a ʻtross.  Mellow as an albie.  Holy as a mōlī.”



Osterlund, H. 2016.  Holy Mōlī: Albatross and other Ancestors.  Corvallis: Oregon State University Press.  147 pp.  ISBN 978-0-87071-849-9.  Soft cover, illustrated with 22 black & white photographs.  US$ 18.95.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 28 June 2016

Employment opportunity with Yelkouan Shearwaters in Malta

BirdLife Malta is seeking to recruit a Project Manager for its EU LIFE Arċipelagu Garnija project, the largest conservation project of its kind in Malta.  The selected candidate will continue the successful implementation of the project which builds on BirdLife Malta’s legacy of LIFE-funded projects on seabirds, including on the Vulnerable Yelkouan Shearwater Puffinus yelkouan, a potential candidate species for ACAP listing.

“We are seeking a qualified and experienced Project Manager who will be capable of ensuring the effective and efficient completion and management of LIFE Arċipelagu Garnija.  He/she will also be required to deliver the project results in accordance with the funding application specifications and the contractual obligations, within normal BirdLife Malta organisational policies and practices; whilst managing the staff and volunteers involved in this project.


Yelkouan Shearwater, photograph by Alex Olle

Applicants must have a minimum of three years’ experience in project management, preferably in a conservation field, and be able to demonstrate organisational, team-working and communication skills.  Budget management and financial control experience is essential.  Previous experience in an EU-funded project or seabird conservation will be considered an asset.  For the full job description, please click here.”

To apply send a cover letter and CV to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 12 pm, Monday 11 July 2016.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 27 June 2016

Analysing albatross diets: a review of methods from 1950 to 2016

 Julie McInnes (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia) and colleagues have published a review article in the ICES Journal of Marine Science that looks at methods to analyse diets of albatrosses.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Many seabird populations are threatened by interactions with commercial fisheries, and climate change.  Understanding their prey requirements and dietary flexibility in this context is important for effective conservation and management.  However, changes in the methods used to assess diet, as well as the spatial and temporal coverage of monitoring schemes, may reduce our ability to detect and monitor these marine threats.  To help assess conservation priorities linked to diet, we performed a systematic review of 109 albatross diet papers published between 1950 and 2016, which corresponded to 296 studies when stratified by sampling year, breeding site, and breeding species. We assessed the methods used, changes over time, and spatial and temporal sampling coverage by species and island group. Most albatross studies have focused on chick-rearing, and diet during other breeding phases is comparatively poorly known. Furthermore, chicks are more commonly sampled than adults and very rarely immature birds, all of which may differ in diet composition.  There was a pronounced shift over time in the preferred method of characterising diet, from the morphological examination of prey remains to stable isotope analysis of tissue. This shift has reduced the volume of detailed taxonomic information available from morphological studies.  This difference in resolution hinders the ability to detect changes in prey species, with implications for management of threatened albatrosses and for monitoring broader changes in marine ecosystems. In a knowledge gap analysis for important breeding colonies (with >5% of global population), we identified key sites where existing monitoring has provided a foundation for robust longitudinal diet studies.  Maintaining and augmenting these long-term research programmes will enable analyses of the impacts of changing climate and fishing practices on seabird populations and facilitate the timely identification and implementation of management options.”

Sooty Albatross Gough Kalinka Rexer Huber shrunk 

Sooties like squid!  Sooty Albatross family on Gough Island, photograph by Kalinka Rexer-Huber

With thanks to Richard Phillips.


Julie C. McInnes, J.C., Raymond, B., Phillips, R.A., Jarman, S.N., Lea, M.-A. & Alderman, R. 2016.  A review of methods used to analyse albatross diets—assessing priorities across their range  ICES Journal of Marine Science doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsw105.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 24 June 2016

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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