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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Aerial baiting of New Zealand’s Antipodes Island to rid it of introduced House Mice successfully completed

Despite a winter campaign with intermittent poor weather the Million Dollar Mouse project successfully completed the second aerial drop of poison bait on New Zealand’s Antipodes Island on 12 July – just in time before a major storm hit the island two days later.  The field team is now focusing on species monitoring and packing up the infrastructure, ready for its departure to the mainland this month.

Lou Sanson, Director-General of the New Zealand Department of Conservation, stated recently in his regular blog: “With three helicopters, 13 staff, 65 tonnes of brodifacoum, 30 tonnes of fuel and two ships, this is one of the most complex jobs we have taken on recently, on one of New Zealand’s most isolated islands.”  After a wait of two years monitoring will be undertaken to see if the campaign was successful and the Antipodes are mouse free.


Antipodes Island, photograph by Erica Sommer

Antipodean Albatrosses on the Antipodes, photograph by Erica Sommer

Read past news on the Million Dollar Mouse project here.

To read of progress with plans to eradicate House Mice on Gough Island in the South Atlantic click here and here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 26 July 2016

Spatial segregation in non-breeding Grey-headed Albatrosses

Thomas Clay (British Antarctic Survey, Madingley Road, Cambridge, UK) and colleagues have published online in Scientific Reports on the at-sea distribution of non-breeding Grey-headed Albatrosses Thalassarche chrysostoma.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Many animals partition resources to avoid competition, and in colonially-breeding species this often leads to divergent space or habitat use.  During the non-breeding season, foraging constraints are relaxed, yet the patterns and drivers of segregation both between and within populations are poorly understood.  We modelled habitat preference to examine how extrinsic (habitat availability and intra-specific competition) and intrinsic factors (population, sex and breeding outcome) influence the distributions of non-breeding grey-headed albatrossesThalassarche chrysostoma tracked from two major populations, South Georgia (Atlantic Ocean) and the Prince Edward Islands (Indian Ocean).  Spatial segregation was greater than expected, reflecting distinct seasonal differences in habitat selection and accessibility, and avoidance of intra-specific competition with local breeders.  Previously failed birds segregated spatially from successful birds during summer, when they used less productive waters, suggesting a link between breeding outcome and subsequent habitat selection.  In contrast, we found weak evidence of sexual segregation, which did not reflect a difference in habitat use.  Our results indicate that the large-scale spatial structuring of albatross distributions results from interactions between extrinsic and intrinsic factors, with important implications for population dynamics.  As habitat preferences differed substantially between colonies, populations should be considered independently when identifying critical areas for protection.”

Grey-headed Albatross, photograph by Richard Phillips


Clay, T.A., Manica, A., Ryan, P.G., Silk, J.R.D., Croxall, J.P., Ireland, L. & Phillips, R.A. 2016.  Proximate drivers of spatial segregation in non-breeding albatrosses.  Scientific Reports 6: 29932 . DOI: 10.1038/srep29932.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 26 July 2016

A go-pro on a selfie-stick shows that Grey Petrels are doing well on Macquarie post eradication of rabbits and rodents

Wildlife Rangers and ornithological field workers Marcus Salton and Kim Kliska on Australia’s Macquarie Island report that Near Threatened and ACAP-listed Grey Petrels Procellaria cinerea are continuing to do well after the eradication of rabbits and rodents by the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project (MIPEP) in 2011.

“The hunt for grey petrels has continued since May.  It has been a team effort searching areas used by grey petrels.  The aim is to estimate the number of grey petrel breeding pairs on Macquarie Island.  To do this we have been carefully scouring patches of thick tussock looking and sniffing for signs of grey petrels.  When we find something promising we take a closer look, either sticking our head right into the burrow or using a go-pro on a selfie-stick that is linked to a screen/tablet.

To date the team has recorded 94 breeding pairs: not quite a record, but we are getting close.  So far our number of breeding pairs is greater than all the totals recorded prior to the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project (MIPEP).  This suggests the breeding population has increased since MIPEP – great news!  Now that there are no more rabbits on the island the vegetation is growing and providing much more stable habitat for grey petrels and other burrowing seabirds.  There are still more than 10 out of 35 areas to search for grey petrels.  Fingers crossed we are able to find more breeding pairs than were recorded in 2011 (112 breeding pairs), because this would mean the population is continuing to grow.” (click here).

Grey Petrel chick on Macquarie Island

Read earlier ACAP Latest News reports on Macca’s recovering Grey Petrels here.


Schultz, M., Robinson, S. & Gales, R.[P.] 2006.  Breeding of the Grey Petrel (Procellaria cinerea) on Macquarie Island: population size and nesting habitat.  Emu 105: 323-329.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 22 July 2016

The World Heritage Committee calls for UK Government funding to eradicate Gough Island’s “killer” House Mice

At its 40th Session held in Istanbul, Turkey this month the Committee of the World Heritage Convention considered the plight of Gough Island (part of a World Heritage Site) and its seabirds, including the Critically Endangered and ACAP-listed Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena that is under threat from introduced House Mice Mus musculus.  It also considered plans (click here) by the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to eradicate the mice.

The Committee noted that although:

 “allocation of three-quarters of the eradication programme budget is anticipated through RSPB’s fundraising campaign, it is of concern that the remaining funding source has not yet been confirmed.  Considering the urgent need to address the threat … it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to urgently allocate sufficient funds for the rapid implementation of the eradication programme.”

The Committee further requested that “the State Party … take urgent action to eradicate mice from the island and urges the State Party to make a firm commitment to allocate sufficient funds for the rapid implementation of the house mouse eradication project”.

(click here for the full text of the WHC document).

Read a news report on the issue here.

A Tristan Albatross chick begs from its parent on Gough Island, photograph by Andrea Angel and Ross Wanless

Meanwhile, an independent review by the Institute for European Environmental Policy commissioned by the RSPB has concluded that the “Gough and Inaccessible Islands WHS [World Heritage Site] clearly meets the criteria for inclusion on the List of World Heritage in danger” and that “the site should be urgently added to the List” because of the threats its birds face from mice.

With thanks to John Kelly.


Tucker, G. & Underwood, E. 2016.  Gough and Inaccessible Islands World Heritage Site: an Assessment of its Status and Case for Inclusion on the List of World Heritage in Danger.  London: Institute for European Environmental Policy.  40 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 21 July 2016

World Heritage status for Mexico’s Revillagigedo Islands will help protect their Laysan Albatross and Townsend’s Shearwater populations

The Committee of the World Heritage Convention (formally the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted in 1972) has added the Archipiélgo de Revillagigedo (Revillagigedo Islands), a group of four Mexican islands in the eastern Pacific Ocean, as a natural Site to the World Heritage List under Criteria (vii), (ix) and (x) during its 40th Session in Istanbul, Turkey this month (click here).

The island group is home to the endemic and Critically Endangered Townsend’s Shearwater Puffinus auricularis, now restricted to Socorro Island, and to small populations of ACAP-listed and Near Threatened Laysan Albatrosses Phoebastria immutabilis on Clarión and San Benedicto Islands.


A Laysan Albatross hatches its egg on Clarión Island, photograph by Ross Wanless

The Reserva de la Biosfera Archipiélgo de Revillagigedo was established in 1994 and was designated as a Ramsar Wetland Site of International Importance (No. 1537) in 2004.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 20 July 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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