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'

A tracked Campbell Albatross circumnavigates the Southern Ocean

 Campbell Albatross Kirk Zufelt Annie Shoemaker Magdaleno hiqual

Campbell Albatross at sea; artwork by Annie Shoemaker-Magdaleno, after a photograph by Kirk Zufelt 

David Thompson (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd., Wellington, New Zealand) and colleagues have published in the journal Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems on the at-sea distribution of New Zealand’s endemic and globally Vulnerable Campbell Albatross Thalassarche impavida.

The paper’s abstract follows:

  1. The use of miniaturized electronic tracking devices has illuminated our understanding of seabird distributions and habitat use, and how anthropogenic threats interact with seabirds in both space and time. To determine the year-round distribution of adult Campbell albatross (Thalassarche impavida), a single-island endemic, breeding only at Campbell Island in New Zealand's subantarctic, a total of 68 year-long location data sets were acquired from light-based geolocation data-logging tags deployed on breeding birds in 2009 and 2010.
  2. During the incubation and chick-guard phases of the breeding season, birds used cool (<10°C) waters over the Campbell Plateau, but also ranged over deeper, shelf-break and oceanic waters (4,000–5,500 m) beyond the Plateau. Later in the breeding season, during post-guard chick-rearing, Campbell albatrosses exploited generally deep waters (4,000–5,000 m) beyond the Campbell Plateau.
  3. During the non-breeding period, adults tended to move northwards into warmer (approximately 15°C) waters and occupied areas beyond western Australia in the west to offshore from Chile in the east. Overall, about 30% of adults spent some of their non-breeding period in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, substantially expanding the previously reported range for this species.
  4. One bird, that failed in its breeding attempt in October 2009, departed Campbell Island and circumnavigated the southern oceans before being recaptured back at Campbell Island in October 2010. This is the first example of an annually-breeding albatross species completing a circumnavigation between breeding attempts.
  5. Overlap with fishing effort, using data from the Global Fishing Watch database, was assessed on a monthly and seasonal basis. Generally, levels of overlap between Campbell albatross and fishing effort were relatively low during the breeding season but were approximately 60% higher during the non-breeding period, underlining the need for international initiatives to safeguard this species.”

With thanks to Richard Phillips, British Antarctic Survey.

Reference:

Thompson, D.R., Goetz, K.T., Sagar, P.M., Torres, L.G., Kroeger, C.E., Sztukowski, L.A., Orben, R.A., Hoskins, A.J. & Phillips, R.A. 2021.  The year-round distribution and habitat preferences of Campbell albatross (Thalassarche impavida).  Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems doi.org/10.1002/aqc.3685.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 23 August 2021

Identifying bycatch hotspots: North Pacific albatrosses overlap with Canadian longline fisheries

Black footed Albatross Colleen Laird

Black-footed Albatross, artwork by Colleen Laird‎ for ACAP

Caroline Fox (Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada) and colleagues have published open access in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series on spatial overlaps of Black-footed Phoebastria nigripes, Laysan P. immutabilis and Short-tailed P. albatrus Albatrosses with Canadian longline fisheries.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Fisheries bycatch mortality poses a primary threat to the majority of the world’s 22 albatross species, 15 of which are at risk of extinction. Although quantitative estimates of albatross bycatch are often unavailable due to a relative or total absence of monitoring, spatial overlap between fisheries and albatrosses is often used to estimate the extent of interaction, a proxy for exposure to bycatch, and to inform avoidance and mitigation actions. Using comprehensive records of commercial demersal longline and trap fishing and survey information for albatrosses (black-footed albatross Phoebastria nigripes, Laysan albatross P. immutabilis, short-tailed albatross P. albatrus), the extent of spatial potential interaction was estimated in Canada’s Pacific coast waters and examined across breeding and non-breeding seasons. The distributions of albatrosses and longline and trap fisheries were found to substantially overlap, with potential interaction hotspots concentrated along the continental shelf break. Trap fisheries reported 1 albatross bycatch incident, suggesting that these fisheries are responsible for negligible albatross mortalities. In contrast, >80% of recorded albatross bycatch incidents occurred within 10 km of albatross-longline fisheries hotspot locations, providing evidence that longline-albatross potential interaction hotspots represent actual areas of elevated bycatch mortality risk. Indicative of potential conservation concern, 60% of short-tailed albatross sightings occurred within 10 km, and 93% within 30 km, of longline-albatross potential interaction hotspots. By contributing knowledge regarding albatross-fisheries interactions, in addition to undertaking the first evaluation of albatross-fisheries hotspots with recorded bycatch incidents on Canada’s Pacific coast, this study represents a step towards enhancing albatross conservation through bycatch avoidance and mitigation.”

With thanks to Ken Morgan.

Reference:

Fox, C.H., Robertson, C., O'Hara, P.D., Tadey, R. & Morgan, K.H. 2021.  Spatial assessment of albatrosses, commercial fisheries, and bycatch incidents on Canada's Pacific coast.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 672: 205-222.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 20 August 2021

 

Efforts continue to rid Australia’s Lord Howe Island of its introduced rats

 Lord Howe Ian Hutton

A view of Lord Howe Island, photograph by Ian Hutton

The Lord Howe Island Rodent Eradication Project has worked to eradicate introduced Ship Rats Rattus rattus and House Mice Mus musculus from Australia’s inhabited Lord Howe Island.  In 2019 after a 15-year period of discussion and planning an attempt was made to eliminate the island’s rodents by a combined aerial- and ground-baiting campaign, as reported in ACAP Latest News.  The prevailing “rule of thumb” is that two years elapse before surveying for rat presence.  This allows for any survivors to breed up to more detectable levels. Only then can the success of an island eradication operation be officially announced.  Although a check was scheduled for August 2021 with success appearing promising, shortly before the two years were up a male and a pregnant female rat were caught on the island in April this year which led to a quick reponse (click here).

The Lord Howe Island Board reported on 4 June:

“Lord Howe Island Board (LHIB) and the [New South Wales] National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) field crews are working together with rodent control experts undertaking rodent baiting and monitoring in and around the settlement area and on the fringes of the Permanent Park Preserve. The team currently working on the rodent response include[s] specialists from Lord Howe Island, mainland NSW, Tasmania and New Zealand.  Locations where rats have been detected continue to be actively monitored using detection dogs and field teams checking an extensive network of monitoring stations.  This complements the permanent monitoring stations in the settlement area and the Permanent Park Preserve.  Despite vigilant monitoring, no rats have been detected in the Permanent Park Preserve.  All detections to date have been in the northern settlement area.

“The combination of detection, surveillance and removal techniques being used are proving successful.  Our Lord Howe Island based dog handlers and detection dogs have been joined by additional dogs from Port Macquarie, Tasmania and New Zealand.  These teams have been invaluable in detecting the rats and are integral to planning our response.  Detection dog handlers are targeting locations of recent rodent sightings or where monitoring stations indicate recent rodent activity.”

According to the latest weekly Rodent Response Update (No. 19, 12 August 2021) sent to the island’s householders a total of 95 rats, made up of 43 adults and 52 juveniles, has been removed since the April detection.  To achieve this, the detection dogs and their handlers have walked over 2100 km.  The effort continues with more motion-detection trail cameras shortly to arrive on the island.

Lord Howe supports breeding populations of Black-winged Pterodroma nigripennis and Providence P. solandri Petrels along with Flesh-footed Ardenna carneipes, Wedge-tailed A. pacifica and Little Puffinus assimilis Shearwaters.

With thanks to Darcelle Matassoni, Project Officer and Keith Springer, Technical Advisor, Lord Howe Island Board.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 19 August 2021

Fledging Grey-headed Albatrosses in the South Atlantic head for a bycatch hotspot

 Grey headed Albatross Dimas Gianuca Nancy Bryant

Grey-headed Albatross, artwork by  Nancy Bryant for ACAP, after a photogaph by Dimas Gianuca

Caitlin Frankish (British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK) and colleagues have published in the journal Biological Conservation on tracking juvenile Grey-headed Albatrosses Thalassarche chrysostoma (globally Endangered).  The study will help inform ACAP’s Seabird Working Group in its deliberations, currently taking place virtually at its Tenth Meeting.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Fisheries bycatch is a major threat to marine megafauna such as seabirds.  Population monitoring has revealed low survival of juvenile seabirds over recent decades, potentially because naïve individuals are more susceptible to bycatch than adults.  However, major gaps remain in our knowledge of behavior and interaction of juveniles with fisheries.  Here, we tracked juvenile grey-headed albatrosses (Thalassarche chrysostoma) from South Georgia - the largest global population of this endangered species, and in rapid decline - to investigate their at-sea distribution and assess bycatch risk.  Fledged juveniles dispersed to the northeast, overlapping with a bycatch hotspot for grey-headed albatrosses reported by the Japanese pelagic longline fleet in the southeast Atlantic Ocean.  Given adult grey-headed albatrosses use regions less exposed to fishing activity (< 40°S), the majority of birds bycaught in this area are probably juveniles, and possibly immatures, from South Georgia, likely representing a key factor explaining the sustained population decline.  Our study highlights the urgent need to uncover the ‘lost-years’ for marine megafauna to enable focused conservation efforts.”

The British Antarctic Survey writes on its Facebook page about the publication:

"Tracking juvenile seabirds confirms a new fisheries-bycatch hotspot for endangered albatross population – New research led by ecologist Dr Caitlin Frankish shows that juvenile grey-headed albatrosses tracked from South Georgia [Islas Georgias del Sur]* disperse to a region in the southeast Atlantic where the Japanese pelagic longline fishing fleet has reported a high number of bycaught (unintentionally caught) individuals of the same species. Caitlin says, “As this region isn’t used by adults, this finding suggests that these bycaught birds are likely juveniles from South Georgia, which may be a key factor in explaining the continued decline in their population size. This study highlights the importance of uncovering the distribution of albatrosses of all ages and has important implications for focusing future conservation efforts.”  Learn more about the Grey-headed Albatross Juvenile Tracking project here."

With thanks to Richard Phillips, Brirish Antarctic Survey

Reference:

Frankish, C.K., Cunningham, C., Manica, A., Clay, T.A., Prince, S. & Phillips, R.A. 2021.  Tracking juveniles confirms fisheries-bycatch hotspot for an endangered albatross.  Biological Conservation  261. doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2021.109288.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 18 August 2021

*A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (Islas Georgias del Sur y Islas Sandwich del Sur) and the surrounding maritime areas.

ACAP’s Seabird Bycatch Working Group starts its 10th Meeting today, this time virtually

Laysan Albatross Laurie Johnson Anne Lyon

A Laysan Albatross tends its chick, artwork by Anne Lyon for ACAP, after a photograph by Laurie Smaglick Johnson

As for nearly all international meetings affected by the COVID-19, the Twelfth Meeting of ACAP’s Advisory Committee (AC12) and of two its working groups will be virtual ones.  This year’s meetings - delayed from last year by the pandemic - are now being held from 16/17 August to 1/2 September (depending on where you are in the world).  Meetings of the Seabird Bycatch Working Group and the Population and Conservation Status Working Group will precede AC12; SBWG10 from 16/17 to 18/19 August, and PaCSWG6 from 23/24 to 24/25 August.  AC12 will meet from 30/31 August to 1/2 September.

SBGW10 is being chaired by its Convenor, Igor Debski from New Zealand, with the support of Vice-convenors Juan Pablo Seco Pon of Argentina  and Sebastián Jiménez of Uruguay; the working groups full membership may be viewed by scrolling down from here.  Nineteen Documents (including an Annotated Agenda, SBWG10 Doc 02) and 23 Information Papers have been tabled for consideration, leading to a busy meeting over the three days allotted.  All these documents can be downloaded from this website but note that some are password protected and so only their abstracts are available to be read.

 Further information is available in AC12 Circular 5 in the three official ACAP languages of English, French and Spanish lengths on timing at different localities and lengths of the three meetings.  Congress Rental has been chosen to manage the technical aspects of the meeting, using the Interprefy platform.  Interprefy enables “relay interpretation” (involving multiple languages – three in the case of ACAP).  Congress Rental is providing technical advice to Chairs, Convenors, Secretariat, interpreters and to other participants.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 17 August 2021