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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Distinguished albatross researcher and conservationist receives the Union Medal of the British Ornithologists’ Union

Professor John Croxall CBE, FRS has been recognized by the British Ornithologists’ Union (BOU), UK’s senior ornithological body, by the award of its Union Medal at its 2015 Annual Conference (click here).  John was Head of Conservation Biology at the British Antarctic Survey  (BAS) for many years and following his retirement from BAS is currently Chair of the Global Seabird Programme of BirdLife International.

In the past John has been active chairing committees and working groups of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), and of the Albatross and Petrel Agreement, attending ACAP meetings on both United Kingdom and BirdLife International delegations at different times.

John receives his Union Medal from the BOU President, Jenny Gill

John holds the President’s Medal of the British Ecological Society.  He was recognized by the Pacific Seabird Group with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 and was awarded the BOU’s Godman Salvin Medal in 2004.  He is an Honorary Professor at the Universities of Birmingham and of Durham, and is an Honorary Fellow of the American Ornithologists' Union, a Fellow of the Royal Society and is a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, allowing him to add the (post-nominal) letters CBE, FRS after his name.

John Croxall has served as President of the BOU and Chairman of Council of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB; BirdLife’s UK Partner).  These two positions express perfectly how John has managed to marry top-quality research on albatrosses and other seabirds with ground-breaking efforts towards their conservation at the international level.

John Croxall on Bird Island with a Wandering Albatross in his days with the British Antarctic Survey 

It has been a great pleasure for me to have worked with John in several of the above-mentioned bodies over the years.  As they say in cycling circles: chapeau!

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 08 April 2015

Electronic tracking and stable isotopes: determining non-breeding areas for Sooty Shearwaters in the North Pacific

David Thompson (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Wellington, New Zealand) and colleagues write in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series on using at-sea tracking and stable isotope analyses to ascertain where Sooty Shearwaters Puffinus griseus from New Zealand travel to in the North Pacific.

 The paper’s abstract follows:

“Following breeding, sooty shearwaters Puffinus griseus leave New Zealand waters and migrate to 1 of 3 distinct areas in the North Pacific Ocean, effectively exploiting environmental resources across a large proportion of this northern ocean basin.  In this study, we combined electronic tracking technology with stable isotope analyses (δ15N and δ13C) of feathers grown during the non-breeding period in order to evaluate whether isotope signatures can be used to identify specific non-breeding areas used by sooty shearwaters.  A region to the east of Japan was utilised by the majority of tracked birds, whereas others used areas off the west coast of North America.  Stable isotope values of feathers allowed the discrimination of individuals that used each of the 3 different non-breeding areas, and suggested that birds off Japan can be further separated into ‘coastal’ and ‘offshore’ groups.  Our results confirm the utility of using stable isotope analysis, validated by tracking devices, as a tool to determine distribution and habitat use of a long-range oceanic migrant, the sooty shearwater. These results also highlight the resource connectivity between the northern and southern Pacific Ocean basin.”

Sooty Shearwater at sea, photograph by John Graham


Thompson, D.R., Torres, L.G., Taylor, G.A., Rayner, M.J., Sagar, P.M., Shaffer, S.A., Phillips, R.A. & Bury, S.J.2015.  Stable isotope values delineate the non-breeding distributions of sooty shearwaters Puffinus griseus in the North Pacific Ocean.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 521:277-282.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 07 April 2015

Reducing IUU fishing - and saving albatrosses - in the Southern Ocean via institutional collaboration

Henrik Österblom (Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden) and colleagues have reviewed Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported (IUU) fishing for Patagonian toothfish Dissostichus eleginoides in the Southern Ocean in the on-line journal Solutions.

The paper’s abstract:

“Illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing is a key barrier for fisheries sustainability and an issue challenging fisheries managers worldwide.  However, there are some innovative examples of how institutions have developed solutions to this problem.  This article describes how the international community, including governments, the fishing industry, and environmental nongovernmental organizations has been able to address the critical challenge of IUU fishing of Patagonian toothfish, or Chilean Sea Bass, in the Southern Ocean.  In the 1990s, IUU fishing threatened to deplete toothfish stocks as well as substantially reduce the number of endangered albatross caught on baited hooks intended to catch toothfish.  Data from interviews, surveys, literature reviews, and official data on estimated levels of IUU fishing illustrates how solutions to these issues were directly dependent on in-depth collaboration between diverse stakeholders.  We illustrate the long process of defining and refining solutions to IUU fishing and show that there is substantial potential for other institutions managing fisheries to learn from the experiences in the Southern Ocean.”


Wandering Albatross in the Southern Ocean, photograph by John Chardine


Österblom, H., Bodin, O., Sumaila, R. & Press, A.J. 2015.  Reducing illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean: a global effort.  Solutions 4(5): 72-79.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 06 April 2015

Diving physiology of Common Diving Petrels, Grey-faced Petrels and Sooty Shearwaters in New Zealand

Brendon Dunphy (School of Biological Sciences, The University of Auckland, New Zealand) and colleagues have published in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series on aspects of the diving physiology of three New Zealand burrowing procellariiform seabirds.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Within breath-hold diving endotherms, procellariiform seabirds present an intriguing anomaly as they regularly dive to depths not predicted by allometric models.  How this is achieved is not known as even basic measures of physiological diving capacity have not been undertaken in this group.  To remedy this we combined time depth recorder (TDR) measurements of dive behaviour with haematology and oxygen store estimates for 3 procellariiform species (common diving petrels Pelecanoides urinatrix urinatrix; grey-faced petrels Pterodroma macroptera gouldi; and sooty shearwaters Puffinus griseus) during their incubation phase.  Among species, we found distinct differences in dive depth (average and maximal), dive duration and dives h−1, with sooty shearwaters diving deeper and for longer than grey-faced petrels and common diving petrels.  Conversely, common diving petrels dove much more frequently, albeit to shallow depths, whereas grey-faced petrels rarely dived whatsoever.  Such differences in dive behaviour were reflected in haematological parameters, with sooty shearwaters having higher red blood cell counts and haematocrit (Hct) values compared to common diving and grey-faced petrels; whereas common diving petrels had significantly lower Hct but possessed higher haemoglobin concentrations per cell and greater respiratory oxygen stores than both sooty shearwaters and grey-faced petrels.  Such results provide the first insights into the physiological traits underpinning procellariiform dive behaviour, and confirm the trend for deep-diving seabirds to have proportionally lower blood and respiratory oxygen stores than shallow divers.”

Sooty Shearwater, photograph by John Graham


Dunphy, B.J., Taylor, G.A., Landers, T.J., Sagar, R.L., Chilvers, B.L., Ranjard, L. & Rayner, M.J. 2015.  Comparative seabird diving physiology: first measures of haematological parameters and oxygen stores in three New Zealand Procellariiformes.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 523: 187-198.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 5 April 2015

Projeto Albatroz publishes a bulletin on seabird conservation in Portuguese

The Brazilian NGO Projeto Albatroz has produced the first issue of its new publication Boletim Técnico Científíco do Projeto Albatroz.

Vol. 1, No.1 dated 2014 contains technical and scientific papers dealing with the conservation of albatrosses and petrels written in Portuguese. The 53-page bulletin covers the development of measures for reducing seabird bycatch in fisheries as well as medical issues relating to rehabilitation.  The issue’s Editorial has been written by Tatiana Neves, the Coordinator of Projeto Albatroz and the four individual articles, which are illustrated with photographs, maps and graphs, are referenced with a single combined bibliography of 47 titles.

Banded Tristan Albatross from Gough Island at sea off South America, photograph by Martin Abreu

The article titles follow in Portuguese:

Estimativa damortalidade de aves marinhas por interação coma pesca industrial de espinhel pelágico do sudeste e sul do Brasil

Estado de conservação das principais espécies de albatrozes e petréis que interagemcoma pesca de espinhel no Brasil

Medidas Mitigadoras: A evolução na forma de reduzir a captura de aves marinhas no Brasil e no mundo

A Medicina da Conservação como ferramenta para a conservação de Albatrozes e Petréls

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 04 April 2015

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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