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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Balearic Shearwaters fly to Special Protection Areas to forage in the Mediterranean

Rhiannon Meier (National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK) and colleagues have published open-access in the journal Biological Conservation on at-sea movements of the ACAP-listed Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Unprecedented changes to the marine environment and growth of bio-logging science make detailed study of the movement ecology of threatened marine species timely.  Here, we study spatial and temporal patterns of marine space use by a critically endangered seabird: the Balearic shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus.  Using a suite of bio-logging systems, 67 foraging trips were recorded during incubation periods between 2011 and 2014 from one of the species’ largest colonies (Sa Cella, Mallorca).  Most birds followed narrow flight corridors to restricted neritic foraging grounds on the Iberian continental shelf.  Productive foraging areas along the Catalan coast (NE Spain) were consistent across multiple years and between sexes, indicating extensive use of predictable resources.  While our study emphasises the vulnerability of this species to anthropogenic activity in nearshore waters, consisteant commuting corridors and foraging grounds represent tractable habitat for protection and offer hope for developing area-based management approaches.  Preferred foraging areas showed strong overlap with recently declared Special Protection Areas, strengthening the evidence base for targeted management at these sites.”

Balearic Shearwater, photograph by Pep Arcos

Reference:

Meier, R.E., Wynn, R.B., Votier, S.C., McMinn Grivé, M., Rodríguez, A., Maurice, L., van Loon, E.E., Jones, A.R., Suberg, L., Arcos, J.M., Morgan, G., Josey, S.A. & Guilford, T. 2015.  Consistent foraging areas and commuting corridors of the critically endangered Balearic shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus in the northwestern Mediterranean.  Biological Conservation 190: 87–97

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 23 July 2015

Aberrantly plumaged White-chinned Petrels get spotted off Brazil

Guilherme Frainer (Laboratório de Sistemática e Ecologia de Aves e Mamíferos Marinhos, Departamento de Zoologia, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil) and colleagues have published in the journal Marine Biodiversity Records on three aberrantly plumaged White-chinned Petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“We report on three aberrantly plumaged White-chinned Petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis from the Brazilian Economic Exclusive Zone in the south-west Atlantic Ocean – the first reports based upon tangible evidence for the region.  Two of them showed a low degree of colour aberration (some white around the eyes and on the upper-wing coverts), whereas the third exhibited the highest degree of plumage aberration so far reported for the species: a plumage mostly white with brown freckles on the upper- and under-parts, head and nape.  We also commented on problems related to at-sea identification of aberrantly plumaged seabirds.”

 

Normally-plumaged White-chinned Petrels, photograph by Ben Phalan 

Reference:

Guilherme Frainer, G., Daudt, N.W. & Carlos, C.J. 2015.  Aberrantly plumaged White-chinned Petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis in the Brazilian waters, south-west Atlantic Ocean.  Marine Biodiversity Records 8.  DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1755267215000871.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 22 July 2015

Albatrosses and petrels are killed by Taiwanese longliners in the Pacific Ocean

Hsiang-Wen Huang (National Taiwan Ocean University, Institute of Marine Affairs and Resource Management, Keelung, Taiwan) has written in the journal Fisheries Research on seabirds, including ACAP-listed albatrosses and petrels, killed by Taiwanese longliners in the Pacific.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“To understand the sea turtle and seabird bycatch of Taiwanese tuna longline fleets for conservation purposes, this research analyzed the data collected by onboard observers between 2008 and 2013.  In total, data from 149 trips and 24.3 million hooks were analyzed, including 50 albacore large-scale tuna longline vessel (LTLVs) trips, 72 bigeye LTLVs trips, and 27 small-scale tuna longline vessel (STLVs) trips.  Seabird bycatch was mostly from the albacore LTLVs.  The highest bycatch rate was 0.320 bird per thousand hooks in the southwest Pacific Ocean in the first quarter, followed by the same area in the second quarter (0.046 bird per thousand hooks) by the albacore LTLVs.  For seabird bycatch species, 81.7% were albatrosses, including wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans), Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis), white-capped albatross (Thalassarche steadi), black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes), and black-browed albatrosses (Diomedea melanophris); other seabird species included white-chinned petrel (Procellaria aequinoctialis), flesh-footed shearwater (Puffinus carneipes), frigate bird and booby.  Regarding sea turtles, the bycatch rate peaked in the second quarter in the western tropical Pacific Ocean by STLVs (0.034 turtle per thousand hooks), followed by albacore LTLVs (0.028 turtle per thousand hooks) during the same time period in the same region. The major bycatch species included olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), followed by green (Chelonia mydas), and leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea).  Observer training for seabird species identification and detailed information collection for mitigation measures should be implemented to ensure better data quality.  This will help implement mitigation measures in areas and fisheries where a large number of birds are taken as bycatch.”

Black-browed Albatross killed on  longline hook, photograph by Graham Robertson

Reference:

Huang, H.W. 2015.  Incidental catch of seabirds and sea turtles by Taiwanese longline fleets in the Pacific Ocean.  Fisheries Research 170: 79-189.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 21 July 2015

Artificial burrows help conserve Yelkouan and Scopoli's Shearwaters on French islands in the Mediterranean

Karen Bourgeois (School of Biological Sciences, Auckland University, New Zealand) and colleagues have published in the journal Biological Conservation on utilizing artificial burrows for Yelkouan Puffinus yelkouan and Scopoli's Calonectris diomedea Shearwaters in the Hyères Archipelago.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Seabirds are one of the most threatened animal taxa worldwide as they have to deal with threats both at sea and on their breeding grounds.  One of these threats is the loss and deterioration of their nesting habitat.  Here, we evaluated the long-term effectiveness of providing artificial burrows for the conservation of Yelkouan (Puffinus yelkouan) and Scopoli's (Calonectris diomedea) shearwaters on two islands of the Hyères archipelago (Mediterranean, France).  We estimated and compared the longevity, occupancy of and breeding success in artificial burrows and natural cavities.  We also analysed factors affecting these three parameters in artificial burrows to optimize their installation for the conservation of our study species.  Although their efficacy depended on the species and the island considered, artificial burrows provided more stable and persistent breeding habitat (12-years persistence: 80% vs. 72%), allowed the recruitment of new breeders and good reproductive success (49–76%), and probably reduced inter-specific competition for nesting cavities, across the two islands.  The characteristics of both artificial burrows and the areas where they were installed affected artificial burrow efficacy in terms of longevity and occupancy by shearwaters.  Thus, artificial burrows were successful tools for the conservation of these two Mediterranean species of shearwaters, particularly when their design and installation were optimized by limiting the risk of their destruction and by selecting burrow and habitat characteristics that enhance their occupancy by the target species.   evaluation of such conservation measures should be performed for every species and site to help managers design and implement effective conservation plans.”

 

Yelkouan Shearwater, photograph by Matthew Borg Cardona

With thanks to Karen Bourgeois.

Reference:

Bourgeois, K., Dromzée, S. & Vidal, E. 2015.  Are artificial burrows efficient conservation tools for seabirds? A case study of two sympatric shearwaters on neighbouring islands and guidelines for improvement.  Biological Conservation 191: 282-290.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 20 July 2015

Bird-scaring lines halt mortality of Black-browed Albatrosses by Argentinian trawlers

Leandro Tamini (Albatross Task Force Argentina, Programa Marino, Aves Argentina, Buenos Aires, Argentina) and colleagues have published in the journal Polar Biology on success achieved from using bird-scaring lines on bottom trawlers fishing on the Patagonian Shelf.

The paper’s abstract follows:

Seabird bycatch represents one of the main threats to vulnerable seabird populations, particularly albatross and petrels, and requires urgent conservation management interventions at a global scale.  We studied seabird mortality associated with demersal factory trawl vessels that target Argentine Hake Merluccius hubbsi along the Argentine Patagonian Shelf and tested the efficacy of bird-scaring lines as a seabird bycatch mitigation measure.  From November 2008 to June 2010, dedicated seabird observers recorded three sources of seabird mortality: entanglements with the trawl net; collisions with the trawl cables (corpses hauled aboard); and collisions with trawl cables (birds observed killed or injured).  During 141 days and 389 hauls, we recorded 17 seabird species associated with vessels, ten of which interacted with fishing gear.  The most vulnerable species was the black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophris).  From 41 recovered corpses, we identified black-browed albatross mortality rates of 0.013 and 0.093 birds/haul for net entanglement and cable collision (corpses hauled aboard), respectively.  From counts of birds killed or injured by cable collisions, we estimate a black-browed albatross mortality rate of 0.237 birds/h.   We use official fishing effort data to consider the potential scale of seabird mortality for the entire fleet and identify the main factors contributing to seabird mortality in this fishery. Bird-scaring lines eliminated seabird mortality caused by collisions with trawl cables and are recommended as a short- to medium-term measure to mitigate seabird mortality in this fishery.

Twin bird-scaring lines deployed behind a demersal hake trawler in the South Atlantic deterring Black-browed Albatrosses from collisions

Photograph by Barry Watkins

Reference:

Tamini, L.L., Chavez, L.N., Góngora, M.E., Yates, O., Rabuffetti, F.L. & Sullivan, B. 2015.  Estimating mortality of black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophris, Temminck, 1828) and other seabirds in the Argentinean factory trawl fleet and the use of bird-scaring lines as a mitigation measure.  Polar Biology DOI 10.1007/s00300-015-1747-3.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 19 July 2015

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