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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Artificial lighting kills 39% of downed Short-tailed Shearwater fledglings in Australia

Airam Rodríguez (Phillip Island Nature Parks, Cowes, Victoria, Australia) and colleagues have published in the open-access online journal PloS ONE on light pollution affecting Short-tailed Shearwaters Puffinus tenuirostris.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Light pollution is increasing around the world and altering natural nightscapes with potential ecological and evolutionary consequences. A severe ecological perturbation caused by artificial lights is mass mortalities of organisms, including seabird fledglings that are attracted to lights at night on their first flights to the sea. Here, we report on the number of fledging short-tailed shearwaters Ardenna tenuirostris found grounded in evening and morning rescue patrols conducted at Phillip Island, Australia, during a 15-year period (1999–2013). We assessed factors affecting numbers of grounded birds and mortality including date, moon phase, wind direction and speed, number of visitors and holiday periods. We also tested experimentally if birds were attracted to lights by turning the lights off on a section of the road. Of 8871 fledglings found, 39% were dead or dying. This mortality rate was 4–8 times higher than reported elsewhere for other shearwater species, probably because searching for fledglings was part of our systematic rescue effort rather than the opportunistic rescue used elsewhere. Thus, it suggests that light-induced mortality of seabirds is usually underestimated. We rescued more birds (dead and alive) in peak fledging, moonless and windy nights. Mortality increased through the fledging period, in the mornings and with increased traffic on holiday periods. Turning the road lights off decreased the number of grounded birds (dead and alive). While moon, wind and time are uncontrolled natural constraints, we demonstrated that reduction of light pollution and better traffic management can mitigate artificial light-induced mortality.”

Short-tailed Shearwater, photograph by Mark Carey

Reference:

Rodríguez, A., Burgan, G., Dann, P., Jessop, R., Negro, J.J. & Chiaradia, A. 2014.  Fatal attraction of Short-Tailed Shearwaters to artificial lights.  PLoS ONE doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0110114.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 28 October 2014

Keeping mongooses off the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i is a priority for threatened Hawaiian Petrels and Newell’s Shearwaters

David Duffy and Paula Capece (Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit, Department of Botany, University of Hawai’i Manoa, Honolulu, Hawai’i, USA) write in the open-access journal Marine Ornithology on the dangers of mongooses preying upon Vulnerable Hawaiian Petrels Pterodroma sandwichensis and Endangered Newell’s Shearwaters Puffinus newelli on the North Pacific island of Kaua’i.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Small Indian Mongooses Herpestes javanicus have until recently been absent from the island of Kaua’i, Hawai’i.  In anticipation of required management, we examine evidence that mongooses may be a significantly more dangerous predator than cats Felis catus for burrowing seabirds, particularly the endangered Hawaiian Petrel Pterodroma sandwichensis and threatened Newell’s Shearwater Puffinus newelli.  Mongooses are small enough to enter burrows, allowing them to take eggs, nestlings and adults.  In contrast, cats appear too broad to enter any but the widest burrows, so they tend to attack adults and young when these come to the burrow mouth.  Given that these seabird species no longer persist in any numbers at low elevations on islands where mongooses are present, and that Kaua’i is one of the lowest of the main Hawaiian islands, if resources are limited, local control or eradication of mongooses would be a higher priority for management than control of cats or rats Rattus spp., although control of just one predator might result in increases in the others.  The most important management action is to keep mongooses off islands where they are not already established.”

Hawaiian Petrel, photograph by André Raine

Reference:

Duffy, D. C. & Capece, P.I. 2014.  Depredation of endangered burrowing seabirds in Hawai’i: management priorities.  Marine Ornithology 42: 149-152.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 27 October 2014

Overhead the albatross hangs motionless upon the air: “Echoes” by Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd was an English rock band formed in London in 1965.  In 1970 the band released “Echoes”, a composition that includes “instrumental passages, sound effects and musical improvisation”.

The lyrics of Echoes, written by band member Roger Waters, commence with an albatross hanging “motionless upon the air”, although the words that follow seem to refer more to under the ocean than above it.

Wandering Albatross, photograph by John Chardine

Lyrics of Echoes by Pink Floyd

Overhead the albatross
Hangs motionless upon the air
And deep beneath the rolling waves
In labyrinths of coral caves
An echo of a distant time
Comes willowing across the sand
And everything is green and submarine.

And no one called us to the land
And no one knows the where's or why's.
Something stirs and something tries
Starts to climb toward the light.

Strangers passing in the street
By chance two separate glances meet
And I am you and what I see is me.
And do I take you by the hand
And lead you through the land
And help me understand
The best I can.

And no one called us to the land
And no one crosses there alive.
No one speaks and no one tries
No one flies around the sun....

Almost everyday you fall
Upon my waking eyes,
Inviting and inciting me
To rise.
And through the window in the wall
Come streaming in on sunlight wings
A million bright ambassadors of morning.

And no one sings me lullabyes
And no one makes me close my eyes
So I throw the windows wide
And call to you across the sky....

Click here to listen to Echoes.

Pink Floyd achieved international acclaim with their progressive and psychedelic music.  “Distinguished by their use of philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, and elaborate live shows, they are one of the most commercially successful and musically influential groups in the history of popular music.”

Click here to listen to the instrumental “Albatross” by Peter Green of the band Fleetwood Mac, first performed in 1969 – only one year earlier than Echoes but a very different composition.  Compare them and see what you think.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 26 October 2014

The Eleventh Chilean Ornithological Congress heard about the Pink-footed Shearwater - an ACAP candidate species – last week

The Eleventh Chilean Ornithological Congress (XI Congreso Chileno de Ornitología) was held last week in La Serena, Chile.  At the congress a number of papers was given on the Vulnerable Pink-footed Shearwater Puffinus creatopus (a candidate for listing within the Agreement) as well as on aspects of seabird mortality and mitigation in Chilean fisheries.

Pink-footed Shearwater, photograph by Peter Hodum

The papers follow by authors and title:

Luis Adasme & Jorge Azocar.  Implementación de un programa de observación cientifica en las pesquerías demensales zona sur austral: problemas, soluciones y desafíos con aves marinas.

Marcelo Garcia Alvarado.  Convenios internacionales y reducción de la captura incidental de aves marinas en Chile.

Peter Hodum, Erin Hagen, Valentina Colodro & Verónica López.  Estado y conservación de las aves marinas del Archipiélago Juan Fernández. [Pink-footed Shearwater breeding site]

Jeffrey Mangel, Josh Adams, Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto, Peter Hodum, David Hyrenbach, Valentina Colodro, Paola Palavecino, Miguel Donoso & Verónica López.  Las implicaciones de conservación de los movimientos de la fardela blanca (Puffinus creatopus) e interacciones con pesquerías en Sudamérica evaluadas usando múltiples métodos.

Graham Robertson, Carlos Moreno, Javier A. Arata, Steven G. Candy, Kieran Lawton, Jose Valencia, Barbara Wienecke, Roger Kirkwood, Phil Taylor & Cristián G. Suazo.  Incremento de los números del Albatros de Ceja Negra en Chile en respuesta a la reducción de mortalidad en pesquerías.

Alejandro Simeone & Luis A. Cabezas.  Tendencias numéricas de Fardelas (Puffinus spp.) frente a Valparaíso: un panorama cuesta abajo.

Cristián G. Suazo, Luis A. Cabezas, Carlos A. Moreno, Javier A. Arata, Guillermo Luna-Jorquera, Alejandro Simeone, Luis Adasme, Jorge Azócar, Marcelo García, Oliver Yates & Graham Robertson.  La captura incidental de aves marinas en Chile: una síntesis de sus impactos y una revisión de las estrategias para contribuir a la reducción de un fenómeno global.

Oliver Yates, Cristian G. Suazo, Luis Adasme, Jorge Azocar, Marcelo Garcia Alvarado & Graham Robertson.  Captura incidental de aves marinas en las pesquerias chilenas: soluciones para una pesca sustentable.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 25 October 2014

Facing into the wind: the complicated fate of the Laysan Albatross. An illustrated account by Hugh Powell

Hugh Powell has authored an article on the Near Threatened Laysan Albatross Phoebastria immutabilis in the 2014 Summer Edition of the magazine Living Bird, published by the USA's Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The illustrated article, also available open-access online, describes the past and current conservation status of the Laysan Albatross and gives information on “How You Can Help”.  This section gives links to websites, covering such matters as recycling plastic items, asking for sustainable seafood in restaurants, visiting a breeding colony or watching albatrosses at sea, reading a children’s book on albatrosses [click here for ACAP’s list] and supporting ACAP (which is described as a “landmark effort [which] coordinates much-needed international collaborations to conserve 30 seabird species”).


A Laysan Albatross tends its chick on Midway Atoll, photograph by Pete Leary

The article ends:

“This is where I take inspiration from the albatross, which shows such grace in its mastery of the elements.  Each time we have attempted to address a problem, they have met us halfway.  I stood above the surf at Kilauea Point and watched albatross A081 peeling ribbons off the wind.  Its long, stiff wings curved like blades of grass, and every swoop and rise was the result of imperceptible motions of its wing tips.  This is a bird for which storms are opportunity and still air is an obstruction, I thought.  There is no serenity as absolute as an albatross facing into the wind.”

With thanks to Ed Melvin and Hugh Powell for information.

Reference:

Powell, H. 2014.  Facing into the wind: the complicated fate of the Laysan Albatross.  Living Bird 33(3): 20-29.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 24 October 2014