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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The South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation adopts a measure to mitigate seabird bycatch in longline and trawl fisheries

The Second Commission Meeting of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) was held last month in Manta, Ecuador (click here).  ACAP was represented at the meeting by its Executive Secretary, Warren Papworth.

A conservation and management measure (COMM-02-08) for minimising the bycatch of seabirds in the SPRFMO convention area was proposed for consideration at the meeting by the Government of New Zealand.

The Commission subsequently adopted a conservation and management measure (CMM 2.04) based on the New Zealand proposal (click here for the meeting’s report).  CMM 2.04 substantially reflects ACAP’s best-practice advice for minimising seabird bycatch in demersal longline and trawl fisheries and the adoption of this CMM by the SPRFMO Commission is warmly welcomed.

The Commission also requested its Secretariat to explore the possibility of a memorandum of understanding on data exchange with ACAP.

The South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation is an intergovernmentalorganisation committed to the long-term conservation and sustainable use of the fishery resources of the South Pacific Ocean and in so doing safeguarding the marine ecosystems in which the resources occur.

Warren Papworth, ACAP Executive Secretary, 10 February 2014

Seawatching for Balearic Shearwaters and other seabirds from Cabo Carvoeiro, Portugal

Johan Elmberg (Aquatic Biology and Chemistry, Kristianstad University, Sweden) and colleagues write in Seabird, the journal of the Seabird Group on the numbers of Critically Endangered and ACAP-listed Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus and other seabirds seen from a Portuguese headland.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“The ecology and movements of seabirds are still inadequately understood, mainly because they can rarely be studied efficiently from land.  The potential of Cabo Carvoeiro (Peniche, Portugal) for monitoring seabird movements from land is poorly known internationally, as few results from this site have been published in English.  Here we present data from standardised counts in October 2012 and draw attention to recent organised seabird counts in Portugal.  Despite unfavourable weather conditions for concentrating seabirds towards land, we observed a strong passage of Northern Gannet Morus bassanus, Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris diomedea, Great Skua Stercorarius skua, and Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus (mean morning passage of 252, 99, 19, and 21 birds / hour, respectively).  Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus, Sooty Shearwater P. griseus and Great Shearwater P. gravis occurred regularly in low numbers.  Extrapolation indicates that thousands of seabirds passed daily within a few kilometres from land.  The high counts of some species and the fairly high species diversity observed by us and in the RAM (Rede de observação de Aves e Mamiferos marinhos) initiative show that Cabo Carvoeiro is an outstanding site for monitoring and studying seabirds in the eastern Atlantic, as it is also located further south in the flyway than most other seawatch points.  We hope this note will inspire ornithologists from other countries to participate in standardised seabird counts at Cabo Carvoeiro and other Portuguese sites.”

Balearic Shearwater, photograph by Miguel McMinn

Reference:

Elmberg, J., Hirschfeld, E. & Cardoso, H. 2013.  Diurnal seabird movements at Cabo Carvoeiro (Peniche, Portugal): observations in early October 2012.  Seabird 26: 24-30.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 09 February 2014

Studying the Balearic Shearwater population of Sa Dragonera Island

Greg Morgan (RSPB, Ramsey Island, UK) and colleagues write in Seabird, the journal of the Seabird Group on the population of the Critically Endangered and ACAP-listed Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus on Sa Dragonera Island.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“The Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus is a Critically Endangered species endemic to the Balearic Islands, subject to a severe decline that could lead to the extinction of the species within three generations (Oro et al. 200).  Predation by introduced mammals is considered the main threat facing the species at its breeding grounds, and therefore conservation action is required along with subsequent monitoring in a species where such information is lacking.  In order to assess the long-term impact of a rodent eradication project on the breeding success of the species on Sa Dragonera island, a series of study plots were established in April 2013.  A survey was carried out to establish the minimum number of known Apparently Occupied Sites (AOS) within each plot.  All potential nest sites within each plot were sampled for the presence of a bird(s) using a combination of methods: (i) tape playback, (ii) physical sighting (by eye or with an endoscope) and (iii) obvious signs of occupation. 33 AOS in 12 study plots were identified.  This project was not a whole island estimate; rather it led to the establishment of a series of repeatable study plots, providing reference estimates of breeding pairs in defined areas on the island to enable monitoring of future changes in the population size following predator removal.”

Balearic Shearwater, photographed by Daniel Oro

Reference:

Morgan, G., McMinn, M., Wynn, R., Meier, R., Maurice, L., Sevilla, B., Rodriguez, A. & Guilford, T. 2013.  Establishing repeatable study plots on Sa Dragonera, Mallorca to assess population trends of the local breeding Balearic Shearwaters Puffinus mauretanicusSeabird 26: 32-41.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 08 February 2014

Short-tailed Albatross pair at the Mukojima translocation colony fails to hatch an egg for a second season

“Last season a pair of endangered Short-tailed Albatrosses Phoebastria albatrus (STAL) produced an egg for the first time at a prospective new breeding ground on an uninhabited island.  Researchers examining the egg found that it was infertile.  Expert analysis continues to determine reasons for failure to successfully hatch an egg at the new breeding site.

Short-tailed Albatross pair attempts to incubate their apparently infertile egg, Mukojima, Ogasawara Islands, November, 2013

The Japanese Ministry of Environment, Yamashina Institute for Ornithology, and other participants are attempting to establish the new breeding site at Mukojima, Ogasawara Islands, 350 kilometres away from the current breeding site at Torishima, Izu Islands because of the danger of annihilation of the breeding colony by volcanic eruption on Torishima.  Last November a surveillance camera installed by NHK and Yamashina Institute on Mukojima confirmed that a nesting STAL pair had again produced an egg.

When the egg failed to hatch on the day predicted early this month, researchers land[ed] on the island to examine the egg, [and] found it to be spoiled.  The year before last this same pair produced the first egg on Mukojima, but it failed to hatch, apparently being infertile (click here).

Since this season’s egg again did not contain a chick embryo, it appears not to have been fertilized.  Yamashina Deputy Director General Kyoaki Ozaki commented, “This is a young pair that we think may not yet have developed compatible breeding rhythms.  Considering that the female has a different ancestry from the Torishima population, we next have to investigate the influence of ecological differences.”

Kyoaki Ozaki writes to ACAP: “Unfortunately, the egg laid last December did not hatch.  [Tomohiro] Deguchi-san checked it on 12 January and the egg was already spoiled.  But this time both the male (A01) and female (unbanded) incubated.  We are hoping [for] next season!”

Click here to read earlier new stories on the translocation of Short-tailed Albatross chicks to Mukojima.

With thanks to Kiyoaki Ozaki, Division of Avian Conservation, Bird Migration Research Center, Yamashina Institute for Ornithology, Japan for information and to Chuck Pell for the translation from the original Japanese text.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 05 February 2014

Wedge-tailed Shearwaters feeding small chicks in the Seychelles forage over an upwelling bank

Jacopo Cecere (Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, Ozzano dell'Emilia, Italy) and colleagues write in the journal Waterbirds on foraging grounds of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters Puffinus pacificus in the Seychelles.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Seabird movements during foraging trips and their preference for particular areas have recently been the focus of many studies aimed at gaining a better understanding of the ecological requirements of several species.  During the last decade, the use of new devices, such as Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and geo-locator loggers, has allowed researchers to perform more investigations of this type.  GPS devices were used on Wedge-tailed Shearwaters (Puffinus pacificus) breeding on Aride Island, Seychelles, to identify the main foraging areas used during early chick-rearing and to assess at-sea foraging habitat selection.  Thirteen foraging trips were recorded, 61.5% of which lasted 1 day.  One main foraging area, located approximately 100 km east of the colony just outside a granitic bank characterized by upwelling and higher values of primary production compared to surrounding areas, was identified.  The foraging area size (3,313 km2) was much smaller than that identified during late chick-rearing (160,000 km2) in a previous study.  This is probably due to the exigency to feed chicks more regularly and hence to find foraging areas closer to the colony during the early chick-rearing.  The identification of key marine conservation areas, like those identified in this study, is a priority for designating marine Important Bird Areas and identifying habitat management measures.  The results of this study should be relevant for the development of conservation plans for Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and for other seabirds in the area.”

Wedge-tailed Shearwater in the Seychelles, photograph by Alan Burger

Reference:

Cecere, J.G., Calabrese, L. Rocamora, G. & Catoni, C. 2013.  Movement patterns and habitat selection of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters (Puffinus pacificus) breeding at Aride Island, Seychelles.  Waterbirds 36:c432-437. doi: .

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 06 February 2014