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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UPDATED. News of field work on ACAP-listed albatrosses and petrels on New Zealand islands

Graham Parker (Parker Conservation, New Zealand) has reported to ACAP Latest News on contractual field work he has been involved with over the last year on ACAP-listed albatrosses and petrels at New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands.

Over July and August last year a winter survey of Grey Petrels Procellaria cinerea was undertaken on Campbell Island on behalf of the Department of Conservation and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).  The key objectives were defining the spatial extent of breeding colonies, estimating colony densities and obtaining an estimate of burrow occupancy.

Graham Parker searches for Grey Petrel burrows on Campbell Island

This was followed by a summer visit back to Campbell and to the Auckland Islands, along with Kalinka Rexer-Huber (PhD student, Department of Zoology, University of Otago) and albatross researcher Paul Sagar, recently retired from NIWA.  On Campbell activities included trialling a boat-based survey of Light-mantled Albatrosses  Phoebetria palpebrata along the island’s coastal cliffs, deploying and retrieving GLS loggers on Southern Royal Albatrosses Diomedea epomophora and attempting to retrieve loggers from Campbell  Thalassarche impavida and Grey-headed T. chrysostoma Albatrosses.

In the Auckland group, a visit to Disappointment Island allowed a mark-recapture study of White-capped Albatrosses T. steadi to be established.  A visit was also paid to Adams Island.

White-capped Albatross on Disappointment Island, photograph by Graham Parker

At all localities visited Kalinka continued to collect information, including on population sizes, on White-chinned Petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis towards her higher degree.  Her thesis research entails addressing tracking, provenance and census gaps for White-chinned Petrels.  "I aim to produce a population estimate for the Auckland Islands, to track individuals at sea and to assess the taxonomic status of New Zealand populations. More broadly, I will evaluate population genetic structure to determine the origin of petrels caught as fisheries bycatch."

White-chinned Petrel on Disappointment Island, photograph by Graham Parker

Graham is clearly keeping busy.  He is now helping with the third year of translocating Vulnerable Pycroft's Petrel Pterodroma pycrofti chicks from Red Mercury Island to 80-ha Motuora Island in the Hauraki Gulf by the Motuora Restoration Society.  Motuora is free of introduced mammals (click here) and thus a suitable site for the establishment of new seabird colonies by translocation, such as an earlier transfer of Common Diving Petrels Pelecanoides urinatrix to the island (click here).

Pycroft's Petrel, photograph by the Motuora Restoration Society

The White-chinned Petrel survey undertaken on Disappointment Island was supported by an award to NIWA from the ACAP Grants Programme in its 2014 round (click here).

With thanks to Graham Parker and Kalinka Rexer-Huber for information and photographs.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 07 March 2015, updated 13 March 2015

The annual British Ornithologists’ Conference this month will hear about albatross tracking in the Southern Ocean

The British Ornithologists' Union 2015 Annual Conference with the theme “Birds in time and space: avian tracking and remote sensing” will be held over 31 March to 2 April at the University of Leicester in the UK.

“This conference will highlight the role of telemetry in understanding the ecology and behaviour of free-living wild birds.  Continuing advances in instrumentation and miniaturization are rapidly making remote-sensing of movements, activity and physiology available and cost-effective for all but the smallest species. This conference will showcase and consolidate the most recent research arising from these advances, emphasizing the value of telemetry for both testing theory and aiding conservation and management.  The advantages of integrated and multifaceted approaches will be a key feature of the conference, as will new developments and opportunities in this rapidly-advancing field.”

Rory Wilson (Department of Biosciences, Swansea University) will give the plenary address on “Smart technology on smarter birds: animal-attached systems for difficult questions”.

Among the oral presentations to be made six will report on tracking studies conducted on procellariiform seabirds, including on several species of ACAP-listed albatrosses (click here for the abstracts).  In addition as well as conventional posters, “talking posters” - short, automated, narrated and unmanned PowerPoint presentations - will run on a continuous loop during breaks in a dedicated screening room.

Grey-headed Albatross, photograph by Richard Phillips 

Thee six oral papers follow along with their presenting authors.

Thomas Clay:  Using habitat-preference models to predict the global non-breeding distributions of albatrosses (Grey-headed Albatross Thalassarche chrysostoma)

José Manuel de Los Reyes González:  Annual consistency of foraging grounds depends on spatial scale and population/individual level: the case of Cory’s Shearwater in the Canary Current upwelling (Calonectris sp.)

Maria Dias:  Using seabird tracking data to identify marine protected areas: does inter-annual variation justify multiple year tracking? (Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys [sic] and Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris borealis)

James Grecian:  Linking remote sensing and geolocation data to understand the impact of climatic change on seabird migration (Broad-billed Prion Pachyptila vittata)

Tim Guildford:  10 years tracking Man [sic] Shearwaters (Puffinus puffinus)

Richard Phillips:  Incidence and implications of individual variation in movement and at-sea activity patterns of seabirds (albatrosses)

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 06 March 2015

Seabird bycatch is being discussed by the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna in Tokyo this week

The Eleventh Meeting of the Ecologically Related Species Working Group (ERSWG) of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) is being held this week in Tokyo, Japan.

The meeting’s provisional agenda states that the Secretariat will request the Albatross and Petrel Agreement and BirdLife International to provide updated information on the seabirds likely to be caught by Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) fisheries, including population status summaries and reviews of mitigations measures.  It is also expected that participants will report on recent mitigation research aimed at assessing the effectiveness of mitigation measures, and provide updates on current and planned mitigation research.

A report from the Effectiveness of Seabird Mitigation Measures Technical Group (SMMTG), on “Approaches for Measuring and Monitoring the Effectiveness of Seabird Conservation Measures in SBT Longline Fisheries” will be considered at the meeting.

The agenda states that the “ERSWG should consider any relevant measures for seabirds that would be applicable to vessels fishing for SBT.  This agenda item is also to consider conservation and management measures for recommending to the Extended Commission.  ERSWG 9 recognised that all three of the best practice mitigation measures should be applied in high risk areas, but the ERSWG has not identified high risk areas that require this level of mitigation.”


Click here for the report of the 10th Meeting of CCSBT's Ecologically Related Species Working Group, held in Canberra, Australia in August 2013. 

ACAP is being represented at the 11th ERSWG meeting by its Executive Secretary, Warren Papworth.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 05 March 2015

The Critically Endangered Tristan Albatrosses of Gough get counted for another year

The Critically Endangered Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena remains under serious threat from attacks on its chicks by House Mice Mus musculus on the United Kingdom’s Gough Island in the South Atlantic.  Last year was the poorest breeding year since recording commenced in 2000, with less than 10% of occupied nests resulting in fledged chicks (click here).  Great albatrosses of the genus Diomedea are expected to raise chicks to fledging from 60-70% of breeding attempts, based on studies on islands where their chicks are not attacked by rodents, so conservationists are rightly concerned for the long-term future of Gough’s near-endemic albatross.

This year's January-February count of incubating birds is now complete with researchers on the island reporting to ACAP Latest News that 1886 pairs were counted for the biennially-breeding species.  This figure has not as yet been adjusted to take account of the estimated numbers of nests that may have failed before the island-wide count was completed.  Gough’s often poor weather with mists causing low visibility means that the island-wide survey has to take advantage of “weather windows” to get into the mountainous interior where the albatrosses breed; thus the counts often have to be spread over several weeks.


A female Tristan Albatross incubates its egg on Gough Island

Come September-October this year the number of surviving chicks will be counted to see how many have survived the winter onslaught by the predatory mice.

Click here for earlier incubation counts of Gough’s Tristan Albatrosses.

With thanks to Christopher Jones and Michelle Risi of the University of Cape Town’s FitzPatrick Institute for information.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 05 March 2015

The ACAP Secretariat posts documents for the Fifth Meeting of Parties in Tenerife, Spain in May this year

The Fifth Session of the Meeting of the Parties (MoP5) to the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) will be held at the Iberostar Grand Hotel Mencey in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain from 4 – 8 May 2015.

The agenda and schedule for the five-day meeting are now available on this website.  A total of 29 documents to be tabled and discussed in Tenerife are listed, now available for reading in advance of the meeting (click here).

Matters for discussion include the nomination of Chile’s endemic Pink-footed Shearwater Puffinus creatopus for listing as ACAP’s 31st species and second shearwater, criteria for listing and de-listing species on Annex 1, lethal experimentation and identifying prospective new Parties to the Agreement.  The Fifth Session will also hear and consider a report of ACAP’s Advisory Committee, which held its Eight Meeting in Uruguay in September last year (click here).


Pink-footed Shearwater, photograph by Peter Hodum

The ACAP Secretariat will be represented at MoP5 by its Executive Secretary, Warren Papworth, Science Officer Wiesława Misiak and its honorary Information Officer, John Cooper, with support from Juan Pablo Seco Pon of Argentina.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 03 March 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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