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.

Contact the ACAP Information Officer if you wish to have your news featured.

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Northern Royal Albatross chicks at Taiaroa Head get ready to fledge

Twenty-four Endangered Northern Royal Albatross Diomedea sanfordi chicks were recently colour banded at Tairaoa Head, New Zealand’s only mainland albatross breeding site (click here).

A Northern Royal Albatross stands guard over its chick at Taiaroa Head

Photograph by Lyndon Perriman

“The 2013/14 breeding season has been the Royal Albatross Centre’s second most successful natural breeding season ever! We are looking forward to similar results next year. There has been well over 100 albatross seen flying around the headland recently and all of the current nests are fit, healthy and ready to take the leap of faith off Taiaroa Head to begin their life at sea.”

Click here to read more about Tairaoa Head’s albatrosses.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 2 August 2014

Malta’s Yelkouan Shearwaters are affected by light pollution when fledging

EU LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project researchers this month released four fledgling Yelkouan Shearwaters Puffinus yelkouan found disorientated by light pollution (click here to view a video of the release filmed under red light).  The birds were released at night from a coastal cliff top.

“These seabirds … wait for darkness to leave their nests, and are guided offshore by the brightest glare, being the horizon in natural circumstances.  So during these first flying attempts, young birds can easily get distracted by lights from nearby urban areas, ending up stranded on land, vulnerable to injury by traffic or stray animals.  Unless guided back to sea, Yelkouan Shearwaters, may not be able to find their way to the shore.”

Yelkouan Shearwater, photographed by Matthew Borg Cardona

The EU LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project aims to identify Marine Important Bird Areas for the three species of procellariiform seabirds that breed on the Maltese Islands.  The project is 50% funded by the EU’s LIFE unit, and is a partnership between BirdLife Malta, the RSPB (BirdLife UK), SPEA (BirdLife Portugal) and the Ministry for Sustainable Development, Environment and Climate Change.

The Vulnerable Yelkouan Shearwater has been proposed for ACAP listing.

Click here to access a review of the ecological consequences of light pollution.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 01 August 2014

A declining species: at-sea distribution and population parameters of the Black Petrels on Great Barrier Island, New Zealand

Elizabeth 'Biz' Bell (Wildlife Management International Limited) and colleagues have submitted a report (POP2013-04) to the Conservation Services Programme (CSP) of New Zealand’s Department of Conservation on the at-sea distribution and population parameters of the ACAP-listed and Vulnerable Black or Parkinson’s Petrel Procellaria parkinsoni on New Zealand’s Great Barrier Island.

The report’s abstract follows:

“This report is part of an ongoing long-term study of the black petrel, Procellaria parkinsoni, on Great Barrier Island (Aotea Island) that was begun in the 1995/96 breeding season.  During the 2013/14 breeding season, 410 study burrows within the 35-ha study area near Mount Hobson were checked and intensively monitored.  Of these, 266 were used by breeding pairs, 101 by non-breeding adults and the remaining 43 burrows were non-occupied.  By 1 May 2014, 185 chicks were still present in the study burrows and 2 had already fledged, corresponding to a breeding success of 70.3%.  Nine census grids were monitored within the study area and accounted for 157 of the inspected burrows and 152 study burrows, with 95 burrows being used for breeding.  Ninety-two chicks from earlier breeding seasons were recaptured within the Mount Hobson colony area this season (a total of 172 ‘returned chicks’ have been caught since the 1999/2000 season).  Analysis of the stratified census grid and mean transect data estimated that there were 2097 to 2465 birds present in the 35-ha area around Mount Hobson (Hirakimata).  Modelling of the black petrel population on Great Barrier Island (Aotea Island) was updated and indicated the population trend may lie anywhere between -2.3% and +2.5% per annum, the uncertainty being driven primarily by uncertainty over juvenile survival.  If juvenile survival is assumed not to exceed adult survival the model finds the population to be slowly declining.  Thirty-three high-resolution GPS i-Got-U™ data-loggers and 17 Lotek™ LAT1900-8 time-depth recorders were deployed between January 2014 and February 2014 on breeding black petrels to obtain at-sea distribution and foraging behaviour.  The at-sea distribution of black petrels was derived from 20 full or partial GPS tracks. Birds foraged around the northern New Zealand and towards East Cape. Foraging behaviour showed black petrels dived to a maximum of -34.3 m, with over 80% of dives less than 5 m.  The majority of dives (67%) were [sic] during the day.”

Black Petrel, photograph by David Boyle

Reports made to earlier meetings of the CSP on ACAP-listed species and on mitigation activities are also available on-line (click here).

With thanks to Barry Baker for information.

Reference:

Bell, E.A. 2014.  At-sea distribution and population parameters of the Black Petrels on Great Barrier Island (Aotea Island), 2013/14.  Blenheim: Wildlife Management International Limited.  98 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 31 July 2014

At-sea distribution of Salvin’s Albatross breeding on New Zealand’s Bounty and Snares Islands

David Thompson and colleagues (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand) have submitted a report (POP2012-06) to the Conservation Services Programme (CSP) of New Zealand’s Department of Conservation on differences in the at-sea distribution of Salvin’s Albatross Thalassarche salvini.

The report’s abstract follows:

“A total of 50 light-based geolocation data-logging devices were [sic] deployed on breeding Salvin’s albatrosses Thalassarche salvini at Proclamation Island, Bounty Islands, in October 2012.  In October 2013, a return visit to the Bounty Islands resulted in the retrieval of 23 loggers, with a further six loggers accounted for but missing from the birds on which they were deployed.   One additional logger was retrieved from a Salvin’s albatross killed as bycatch on a commercial fishing vessel.  Twenty loggers remain at large and unaccounted for.    Due to technical issues, all loggers had to be returned to the manufacturer in order for location data to be extracted. Of the 24 tags retrieved, data were extracted from 20, and of these seven sets proved to be unusable. The 13 usable data sets ranged in duration from 49 to 371 days, with a mean duration of 161 days.  During incubation and chick-rearing, Salvin’s albatrosses from the Bounty Islands disperse both north (mostly) and south of the Bounty Islands, remaining towards the east of a line corresponding approximately to 170 degrees west.  During the non-breeding period birds traversed the Pacific Ocean to occupy an area off the coast of Chile.  Additional, comparative location data were included from Salvin’s albatross breeding at the Western Chain in the Snares group.  Salvin’s albatross from the Western Chain similarly disperse north and south from the breeding site during incubation and chick-rearing, but tend to remain further to the west, approximately to the west of a line corresponding to 170 degrees west.  During the non-breeding period, most Western Chain birds were off the coast of Chile, but a second group of birds occupied an area off the coast of Peru further to the north, between 10 and 20 degrees south.  Also, one bird from the Western Chain remained in Australasian seas throughout the non-breeding period.  The differences in distribution of the two populations of Salvin’s albatross in New Zealand waters have clear implications for exposure to risk from commercial fishing operations.  However, the relatively small number of data sets acquired from Salvin’s albatrosses from the Bounty Islands preclude from drawing firm conclusions with respect to the non-breeding distribution in particular: questions around whether Bounty Islands birds occupy a single zone off Chile during this period, or whether they also occur off Peru and remain in Australasia, remain to be definitely answered.”

Salvin's Albatross, photograph by Aleks Terauds

Reports made to earlier meetings of the CSP on ACAP-listed species and on mitigation activities are also available on-line (click here).

With thanks to Barry Baker for information.

Reference:

David Thompson, D., Sagar, P., Torres, L. & Charteris, M. 2014.  Salvin’s albatrosses at the Bounty Islands: at-sea distribution.  Draft Final Report prepared for Department of Conservation July 2014.  National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.  13 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 30 July 2014

Crowdfunding supports research on Campbell and Grey-headed Albatrosses

Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project by requesting monetary contributions from the public via the Internet.  Since its inception in around 2006 funds have been raised from individuals and organizations for conservation research, among other activities, in this way.

Crowdfunding has now been successfully used to contribute to the costs of a PhD research project on albatrosses (click here).

Caitlin Kroeger (Ocean Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA) has been studying ACAP-listed Campbell Thalassarche impavida and Grey-headed T. chrysostoma Albatrosses at New Zealand’s Campbell Island over the last three breeding seasons.  Her research has included looking at the energetic costs of foraging utilizing GPS loggers and double-labelled water techniques on birds feeding chicks to measure field metabolic rates.  The funds raised by crowdfunding will be used to undertake the necessary analyses of blood samples collected in the field (click here).

A Campbell Albatross preens its chick, photograph by David Evans

Read more about Caitlin’s research on albatrosses here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 29 July 2014