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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Questions to consider when planning the tracking of albatrosses and petrels by satellite or GPS

David Latham (Landcare Research, Lincoln, New Zealand) and colleagues have pre-published in next year’s New Zealand Journal of Ecology on matters to consider when planning the tracking of wildlife by satellite or GPS.  ACAP-listed species considered in the paper are the Northern Royal Albatross Diomedea sanfordi, White-capped Albatross Thalassarche steadi and Black Petrel Procellaria parkinsoni.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“GPS and satellite technology for studies on wildlife have improved substantially over the past decade.  It is now possible to collect fine-scale location data from migratory animals, animals that have previously been too small to deploy GPS devices on, and other difficult-to-study species. Often researchers and managers have formatted well-defined ecological or conservation questions prior to deploying GPS on animals, whereas other times it is arguably done simply because the technology is now available to do so.  We review and discuss six important interrelated questions that should be addressed when planning a study requiring location data.  Answers will clarify whether GPS technology is required and whether its use would increase efficiency of data collection and learning from location data. Specifically, what are the required: (1) ecological question(s); (2) frequency and duration of data collection; (3) sample size; (4) hardware (VHF or GPS or satellite) and accessories; (5) environmental data; and (6) data-management and analysis procedures?  This approach increases the chance that the appropriate technology will be deployed, budgets will be realistic, and data will be sufficient (but not excessive) to answer the ecological questions of interest.   The expected results are important advances in ecological science and evidence-based management decisions.”

A Northern Royal Albatross chick approaches fledging on New Zealand's Taiaroa Head


Latham, A.D.M., Latham, M.C., Anderson, D.P., Cruz, J., Herries, D. & Hebblewhite, M. 2015.  The GPS craze: six questions to address before deciding to deploy GPS technology on wildlife.  New Zealand Journal of Ecology 39.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 16 November 2014

Black-browed and Salvin’s Albatrosses and both giant petrels visit Chilean oceanic islands in the South Pacific

Marcelo Flores (Departamento de Ecología y Biodiversidad, Universidad Andres Bello, Santiago, Chile) and colleagues have published in the Latin American Journal of Aquatic Research on seabirds occurring on Chilean oceanic islands in the South Pacific Ocean.  ACAP-listed species recorded regularly or occasionally were Black-browed Thalassarche melanophris and Salvin's Albatrosses T. salvini and Northern Macronectes halli and Southern Macronectes giganteus Giant Petrels.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“We reviewed available information on seabirds inhabiting Easter Island, Salas y Gómez Island and Desventuradas Islands and their adjacent waters through an analysis of published and grey literature.  Results obtained indicate that a total of 37 species are present in the study area and that, among the orders represented, the Procellariiformes and Charadriiformes are the dominant taxa (29 species).  Moreover, the family Procellariidae is represented by 13 species and Laridae by 7 species.  There has been an increase in new records over the past six years but no systematic studies have been developed.  The need for further research that focuses on ecological aspects and anthropogenic impacts is critical in order to develop adequate conservation strategies.”

Salvin's Albatross at sea, photograph by Aleks Terauds


Flores, M.A., Schlatter, R.P. & Hucke-Gaete, R. 2014.  Seabirds of Easter Island, Salas y Gómez Island and Desventuradas Islands, southeastern Pacific Ocean.  Latin American Journal of Aquatic Research 42: 752-759.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 15 November 2015

ACAP attends two tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organization meetings in Japan to discuss seabird bycatch in high-seas longline fisheries

The 10th Session of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission‘s (IOTC) Working Party on Ecosystems and Bycatch (WPEB) was held in Yokohama, Japan, from 27 to 31 October 2014.

The meeting considered a paper prepared and presented by an ACAP intersessional group identifying the main elements that should be incorporated into a review of IOTC’s seabird conservation measure (Resolution 12/06 On reducing incidental bycatch of seabirds in longline fisheries), which came into force in July 2014.  The WPEB noted that Contracting Parties and Cooperating Non-Contracting Parties (CPCs) of IOTC are required to collect and report data on seabird bycatch and bycatch mitigation measures, and highlighted the importance of these data for the review of Resolution 12/06.  It was also agreed that CPCs should report seabird bycatch figures in their National Reports to the IOTC, together with associated observer programme information, such as the proportion of fishing effort sampled by observers.

The WPEB recognised the extensive distribution of many seabirds, and thus the value of evaluating the efficacy of seabird bycatch mitigation measures across different ocean basins and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs).  It was agreed that it would be useful to develop and maintain linkages with other RFMOs, such as the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) that are also in the process of developing methods to review the effectiveness of recently adopted seabird bycatch mitigation measures (click here).

At the meeting, BirdLife International presented an update on research undertaken collaboratively with the Republic of Korea on the use of Lumo Leads® in the Korean longline fleet, as well as a practical demonstration of the Fishtek Hook Pod.

At its 2013 meeting, the Ecologically Related Species Working Group (ERSWG) of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) recommended that an Effectiveness of Seabird Mitigation Measures Technical Group (SMMTG) be established to provide advice to the ERSWG on the best approaches for measuring and monitoring the effectiveness of seabird bycatch mitigation measures in Southern Bluefin Tuna Thunnus maccoyii longline fisheries.

The first meeting of the SMMTG took place in Tokyo, Japan, from 04 to 06 November 2014.  The outcomes of the meeting will be used to update a scoping paper on the topic that will be presented to the next meeting of the ERSWG, which is due to take place in March 2015.

ACAP was represented at both meetings by the Convenor of its Seabird Bycatch Working Group, Anton Wolfaardt.


ACAP Intersessional Group 2014.  Preliminary identification of minimum elements to review the effectiveness of seabird bycatch mitigation regulations in tuna RFMOs IOTC–2014–WPEB10–29.  14 pp.

Anton Wolfaardt, Convenor, ACAP Seabird Bycatch Working Group, 14 November 2014

Assessing plastic ingestion in Short-tailed and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters via the uropygial gland

Britta Hardesty (CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia) and colleagues have published early view in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution on detecting plastic pollution in seabirds via analysis of their preen gland oil.  Species studied included the Short-tailed Puffinus tenuirostris and Wedge-tailed P. pacificus Shearwaters.Flesh-footed Shearwater, photograph by Barry Baker

The paper’s summary follows:

  1. Plastic pollution is a long-standing ubiquitous issue.  Global use of plastics is continuing to rise, and there is increasing interest in understanding the prevalence and risk associated with exposure of wildlife to plastics, particularly in the marine environment.
  2. In order To facilitate an assessment of ingestion of plastics in seabird populations, we developed a minimally invasive tool that allows for detection of exposure to plastics.
  3. Using a simple swabbing technique in which the waxy preen oil is expressed from the uropygial gland of birds, we successfully tested for the presence of three common plasticizers: dimethyl, dibutyl and diethylhexyl phthalate [dimethyl phthalate, dibutyl phthalate and bis(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate, respectively].  These plasticizers are prevalent in the manufacturing of plastic end-user items which often end up in the marine environment.
  4. Using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry and protocols to reduce background contamination, we were confidently able to detect targeted plasticizers at low levels.
  5. The method described has broad applicability for detecting plastics exposure in wildlife at individual, population and species levels.  Furthermore, the approach can be readily modified as needed to survey for plastics exposure in taxa other than seabirds.
  6. Applying the simple, minimally invasive approach we describe here is particularly appealing for detecting plastics exposure at population and species levels, it shows promise for quantification and it has no observed detrimental impacts to wildlife."
  7. Click here for a media report on the publication.


Hardesty, B.D., Holdsworth, D., Revill, A.T. & Wilcox, C. 2014.  A biochemical approach for identifying plastics exposure in live wildlife.  Methods in Ecology and Evolution  DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12277.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 13 November 2014

Albatross, cat, mouse and rat: adversaries on invaded islands all get their stories told in Reaktion Books’ Animal Series

The Animal series by Reaktion Books is described as the “first of its kind to explore the historical significance and impact on humans of a wide range of animals, each book in the series takes a different animal and examines its role in history around the world.  The importance of mythology, religion and science are described as is the history of food, the trade in animals and their products, pets, exhibition, film and photography, and their roles in the artistic and literary imagination.”

A total of 68 volumes has been announced to date (click here).  The first book (alphabetically) in the series is fittingly “Albatross” by Graham Barwell, previously reviewed by ACAP Latest News (click here).

Three books in the series deal with widespread predatory mammals that have caused, and continue to cause, havoc on seabird islands to which they have been introduced: feral Domestic Cat Felis catus, rats Rattus spp. and the House Mouse Mus musculus.

A Tristan Albatross chick under attack by mice at night on Gough Island

Photograph by Ross Wanless

“Mouse” by Georgie Carrol is due to be released next week.  Readers of ACAP Latest News will know well of the ravages introduced House Mice are wreaking on the United Kingdom’s Gough Island (click here), so I am expecting the plight of the island’s near-endemic and Critically Endangered Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena to be mentioned.  Meanwhile here is a flavour of what to expect.

“From Mickey to Jerry to Pinky, mice have played an important role in our childhood cartoons and tales.  Often a heroic figure in culture and fiction – mice are the iconic symbol of Disney – they are also considered one of the human race’s greatest adversaries, responsible for disease and plague.  Presenting a natural and cultural history of the mouse, this book explores the large role this diminutive animal plays in both the animal kingdom and human imagination.”  Should be a good read.

The series, edited by Jonathan Burt, who also wrote “Rat”, includes volumes on the Cow, Dog, Fox, Hedgehog, Goat, Pig and Rabbit, but not yet on Reindeer, all of which have been introduced to more than one seabird island with harmful effect.

Oh yes, for those marine ornithologists who like non-flighted seabirds, there is a book in the series on penguins.


Barwell, Graham 2014.  Albatross.  London: Reaktion Books. 208 pp.

Burt, Jonathan 2006.  Rat.  London: Reaktion Books  189 pp.

Carrol, Georgie 2014.  Mouse.  London: Reaktion Books  224 pp.

Dickinson, Victoria 2013.  Rabbit.  London: Reaktion Books.  216 pp.

Hinson, Joy 2014.  Goat.  London: Reaktion Books.  224 pp. 

Martin, Stephen 2009.  Penguin.  London: Reaktion Books  198 pp.

McHugh, Susan 2004.  Dog.  London: Reaktion Books  232 pp.

Mizelle, Brett 2011.  Pig.  London: Reaktion Books.  224 pp.

Rogers, Katharine M. 2006.  Cat.  London: Reaktion Books  207 pp.

Velton, Hannah 2008.  Cow.  London: Reaktion Books.  207 pp.

Wallen, Martin 2006.  Fox.  London: Reaktion Books.  208 pp.

Warwick, Hugh 2014.  Hedgehog.  London: Reaktion Books.  216 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 12 November 2014