Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Latest News

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 Information Officer if you wish to have your news featured.

Click here to subscribe to ACAP News Click here to subscribe to 'ACAP Latest News'

Identifying suitable breeding sites for Hawaii’s Endangered Newell’s Shearwaters by modelling their habitat

Jeff Troy (Department of Biology, Texas State University, San Marcos, USA) and colleagues write in-press in the Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management on identifying new suitable breeding habitat for Endangered Newell's Shearwater Puffinus newelli on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

The paper’s abstract follows:

The Newell's shearwater, or `A`o (Puffinus newelli), is endemic to the main islands of the Hawaiian Archipelago and is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List and as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act.  Using abiotic and biotic environmental variables, we developed a terrestrial habitat suitability model for this species on Kauai to predict habitat that could be suitable in the absence of anthropogenic threats.  In addition, we developed a habitat/threat-isolation index incorporating information from our suitability model to identify regions of structurally suitable habitat with less exposure to certain anthropogenic threats (relative to other portions of the island).  The habitat suitability model suggests that slope, density of rock fragments within the soil, and native vegetation cover are important factors associated with the current known distribution of the Newell's shearwater on Kauai, and that a moderate portion of the sloped interior terrain of Kauai could potentially be suitable nesting habitat for this species.  The habitat/threat-isolation index identified the mountains on the north-central portion of the island as structurally suitable habitat most isolated from a combination of major anthropogenic disturbances (relative to other portions of the island).  Much of this region, however, is privately owned and not designated as an official reserve, which could indicate a need for increased conservation action in this region in the future.  This information is important for conservation biologists and private landowners because expanding efforts to control non-native predators, as well as management of additional lands as reserves, may be necessary for the protection and preservation of the Newell's shearwater.”

Newell's Shearwater, photograph by Eric Vanderwerf

Reference:

Troy, J.R., Holmes, N.D., Veech, J.A., Raine, A.F. & Green, M.C. 2014.  Habitat suitability modeling for the Newell's Shearwater on Kauai.  Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management  doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3996/112013-JFWM-074.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 03 December 2014

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission is meeting this week and improved seabird mitigation for small vessels is on the agenda

The Eleventh Session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) is being held this week in the Faleata Sports Complex, Apia, Samoa.  Click here for the meeting’s agenda.

A change proposed by the USA (WCPFC11-2014-DP01) to the current Conservation and Management Measure for Mitigating Impacts of Fishing on Seabirds (CMM 2012-07) aims to remove the current exemption for vessels less than 24 m in length in the North Pacific from the requirement to use seabird bycatch mitigation measures in areas north of 23° North latitude from 1 January 2017.

A small North Pacific longliner trails a bird-scaring line, photograph by Ed Melvin

Reference:

Unites States of America 2014.  Revisions to CMM 2012-07 Conservation and Management Measure to Mitigate the Impact of Fishing for Highly Migratory Fish Stocks on SeabirdsWCPFC11-2014-DP01. 7 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 02 December 2104

Northern Royal Albatrosses return to breed in numbers on New Zealand’s mainland at Taiaroa Head

Taiaroa Head, at the end of the Otago Peninsula near Dunedin in New Zealand’s South Island is one of the very few places in the World where the general public can view breeding albatrosses without the need of joining a sea-going expedition.  Globally Endangered Northern Royal Albatrosses Diomedea sanfordi have bred at Taiaroa Head, now a nature reserve, since 1938 and it is has become a major tourist attraction.  Over the years the population has increased, with 24 chicks successfully fledging last season out of 26 eggs laid (click here).


A Northern Royal  Albatross guards its downy chick at Taiaroa Head, photograph by Lyndon Perriman

The birds are now returning for the new 2014/15 breeding season.  Since the end of September 104 individuals have been spotted and so far 32 nest sites with eggs established, eight more than the previous season, but less than the 36 eggs laid over 2012/13 (click here).

The Royal Albatross Centre is operated by the Otago Peninsula Trust and the Department of Conservation.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 01 December 2014

Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwaters are killed by Portuguese purse seines and set nets

Nuno Oliveira (Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves - SPEA, Portugal) and colleagues have published open access in the journal Global Ecology and Conservation on seabird bycatch in Portuguese fisheries.  ACAP-listed and Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwaters Puffinus mauretanicus (31 out of 68 birds reported) were killed by purse seines and set nets, although not reported by longlines - as in other parts of the bird’s at-sea range.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Competition with fisheries and incidental capture in fishing gear are the major current threats for seabirds at sea.  Fishing is a traditional activity in Portugal and is mainly composed of a great number of small vessels.  Given the lack of knowledge on effects of the Portuguese fishing fleet on seabird populations, bycatch was assessed in mainland coastal waters for 2010–2012.  Interviews and on-board data were divided into 5 strata, according to fishing gear: Bottom trawling, Bottom longline, Purse seine, Beach seine, Polyvalent (≥12 m) and Polyvalent (<12 m).  Polyvalent included Setnets, Traps and Demersal longlines.  Overall, 68 birds were recorded to be bycaught.  The average catch per unit effort (CPUE) was 0.05 birds per fishing event.  Polyvalent (<12 m), Polyvalent (≥12 m) and Purse seiners had the biggest seabird bycatch rates, with 0.5 (CPUE = 0.1), 0.11 (CPUE = 0.05) and 0.2 (CPUE = 0.11) birds per trip, respectively.  Within Polyvalent gear, Setnets captured the largest diversity of seabird species (CPUE = 0.06), while Demersal longline had the highest CPUE (0.86).  Northern gannet was the most common bycaught species.  Although more observation effort is required, our results suggest that substantial numbers of Balearic shearwater might be bycaught annually, mainly in Purse seine and Setnets.”

 

Balearic Shearwater at sea

Reference:

Oliveira, N., Henriques, A., Miodonski, J., Pereira, J., Marujo, D., Almeida, A., Barros, N., Andrade, J., Marçalo, A., Santos, J., Benta Oliveira, I., Ferreira, M., Araújo, H., Monteiro, S., Vingada, J. & Ramírez, I. 2015.  Seabird bycatch in Portuguese mainland coastal fisheries: An assessment through on-board observations and fishermen interviews.  Global Ecology and Conservation 3: 51-61.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 30 November 2014

Sixty-something Wisdom the Laysan Albatross returns to Midway for yet another breeding season

Wisdom, the World’s oldest-known Laysan Albatross Phoebastria immutabilis, now considered to be at least 64 years old and first banded as an adult in 1956, was sighted preening her mate (band number G000) on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge on 22 November.  Her colour band Red Z333 was viewed by Deputy Refuge Manager Bret Wolfe - who used a telephoto lens at a distance to avoid overly disturbing the pair.  Wisdom's mate had been waiting close to the pair's former nest site since 19 November.  It is typical for male Laysan Albatrosses to arrive first at the nest site.  By the 23rd Wisdom had left for sea (click here).

Wisdom on the left preens her mate, photograph by Bret Wolfe/USFWS

“The breeding [Laysan] albatrosses, both male and female, typically return to sea shortly after mating.  After about 5-10 days, the female will return and lay a single egg in a bowl-like nest made from sand and grass.  The males will return shortly thereafter, though some may remain to guard the nest site while the female is away.  Although it's not set in stone that they will successfully breed and raise a chick in any given year, this pair has successfully bred in each of the last seven years.”

To read more ACAP news items about the exploits of Wisdom, and of the children’s book, mascot, poem, Facebook page and artwork she has inspired click here.

Laysan Albatrosses have already started laying on the main Hawaiian Islands, with the first eggs spotted on the 21st.

Meanwhile on Midway’s Eastern Island the male Short-tailed Albatross P. albatrus arrived at the end of October and is waiting for its partner.  The pair has bred successfuly three times in the last four years (click here).

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 29 November 2014