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.

Contact the ACAP Communications Advisor if you wish to have your news featured.

Progress with establishing a new Laysan Albatross colony by translocating chicks hatched from artificially incubated eggs

ACAP Latest News has previously reported on plans by Pacific Rim Conservation to establish a new colony of Laysan Albatrosses Phoebastria immutabilis on the Hawaiian island of Oahu by taking advantage of eggs removed from a naval facility on the nearby island of Kauai (click here).

Forty-three eggs from Kauai’s Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands (PMRF) were flown to Oahu in December last year and placed in an artificial incubator.  Once those eggs that were fertile had hatched the chicks were temporarily fostered under adults in the Kaena Point National Wildlife Refuge on Oahu (click here).

A translocated chick gets weighed while being fostered at Kaena Point

Pacific Rim Conservation now reports:

“After a month with foster parents at Kaena Point, the translocated chicks are now at [the] James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge and getting used to their new 'habitat'.  They are being housed in a carport for two weeks while they transition from being brooded by their parents to being able to maintain their body temperature on their own.  The tubs you see them in are to ensure they don't wander around into another chicks 'territory', and to help keep everything clean.  Kind of like an actual nest cup.”

Translocated chicks on site in the carport

Next stage will be to move the chicks into the open and continue to feed them by hand until they fledge.  ACAP Latest News will keep you posted as the news comes in.

The translocation project is being supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, American Bird Conservancy, US Navy, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

With thanks to Lindsay Young, Pacific Rim Conservation for information and photographs.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 02 March 2015

Canada proposes a management plan for the Black-footed Albatross

Environment Canada in cooperation with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Province of British Columbia and in terms of the Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARAhas released a proposed management plan for the Black-footed Albatross Phoebastria nigripes.

The plan’s Executive Summary follows:

“The Black-footed Albatross is a long-lived seabird that breeds mainly in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and occurs at sea off the Pacific Coast of Canada during the breeding and non-breeding seasons.  Significant numbers feed off the coast of British Columbia each year, including adults making long foraging trips to feed their young.  The population seems generally stable, but relatively high numbers are caught as bycatch in longline fisheries in the North Pacific.  Additionally, adults and immature birds are affected by the accumulation of toxic chemicals and heavy metals and by the ingestion of waste plastics from the surface of the sea when they are feeding.  Because of the unknown effect of these particular threats over the long term, the Black-footed Albatross has been listed as a species of Special Concern in Canada.  Emerging threats such as the potential loss of nesting and foraging habitat due to climate change also threaten this species.  The management objective for the Black-footed Albatross is to “...help to increase global population numbers and maintain the population throughout its documented distribution in Canadian waters, by reducing at-sea mortality and otherwise augmenting international conservation efforts.”  The conservation of the Black-footed Albatross cannot succeed by Canadian efforts alone due to the wide-ranging marine nature and distant nesting habitats of this species.  Actions already underway include long-term at-sea surveys that record Black-footed Albatross distribution and abundance in Canada, and assessments of longline bycatch mortality in Canadian Pacific waters, including monitoring of current bycatch levels.  Bycatch mitigation measures have been implemented in the target fishing fleet, but monitoring for compliance and effectiveness is limited and should be increased.  Strategies and measures to achieve the management objectives are presented in the section entitled Broad Strategies and Conservation Measures.”

Black-footed Albatross, photograph by Cynthia Vanderlip

The management plan is now open for a 60-day comment period (ending 27 April), following which a final version will be produced and published.

With thanks to Ken Morgan for information.

Reference:

Environment Canada. 2015. Management Plan for the Black-footed Albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) in Canada [Proposed].  Species at Risk Act Management Plan Series.  Ottawa: Environment Canada.  iv+ 30 pp.

Click here for a French-Language version of the plan.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 01 March 2015

A review of seabird bycatch by fisheries in the waters of Chile

Cristián Suazo (Department of Animal Ecology and Systematics, Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany) and colleagues have reviewed the impacts of Chilean fisheries on seabirds, notably the ACAP-listed Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophris, in the most recent issue of the journal Pacific Seabirds.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Chile holds globally important colonies of endangered and endemic seabird species, and globally vulnerable nonbreeding species visit its waters.  One of the major threats for seabirds in Chilean waters is the impact of fishing activities, both industrial and artisanal, which overlap with seabird breeding and foraging areas.  Bycatch in fisheries threatens 27 identified species and two groups of unidentified albatrosses and penguins, with the Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys [sic] as the species most related to bycatch events.   Responding to the international call for the voluntary adoption of a plan to reduce the impacts of fisheries on seabirds, Chile generated a National Plan of Action (PAN-AM/Chile) to monitor seabird bycatch, and to mitigate threats to seabirds with emphasis on industrial longline fisheries.  Following the successful reduction of seabird bycatch in the demersal longline fishery for Patagonian toothfish Dissostichus eleginoides, with zero individuals caught during 2006, Chile is extending the PAN-AM/Chile to include other fisheries that use gear known to cause incidental mortality, such as trawl, purse seine, and gillnets.  This initiative is supported by actions associated with the creation of a national scientific committee for biodiversity, and new collaborative research platforms under the auspices of the Chilean Undersecretariat for Fisheries and Aquaculture.”

A hooked Black-browed Albatross that drowned, photograph by Graham Robertson

Reference:

Suazo, C.G., Cabezas, L.A., Moreno, C.A., Arata, J.A., Luna-Jorquera, G., Simeone, A., Adasme, L., Azócar, J., García, M., Yates, O. & Robertson, G. 2014.  Seabird bycatch in Chile: a synthesis of its impacts, and a review of strategies to contribute to the reduction of a global phenomenon.  Pacific Seabirds 41: 1-12.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 28 February 2015

An at-sea atlas of top predators from French Territories in the southern Indian Ocean is published

Karine Delord and colleagues (Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé, Villiers-en-Bois, France) have published on the at-sea distribution of 10 species of ACAP-listed albatrosses and petrels in the southern Indian Ocean based on tracking studies conducted on French sub-Antarctic islands.

Although dated 2013, the senior author has informed ACAP Latest News that the report has only been made publicly available this year.

The publication’s abstract follows

“This Atlas is a summary of information on the use of the southern Indian Ocean by 22 seabirds and seals species (king penguin, gentoo penguin, Adélie penguin, eastern rockhopper penguin, northern rockhopper penguin, macaroni penguin, Amsterdam albatross, wandering albatross, black-browed albatross, Indian yellow-nosed albatross, light-mantled albatross, sooty albatross, southern giant petrel, northern giant petrel, southern fulmar, Cape petrel, snow petrel, white-chinned petrel, grey petrel, brown skua, southern elephant seal and Antarctic fur seal).  The distribution map of each species was obtained by the use of tracking methods that allow identifying important areas in the southern Indian Ocean. The determination of zones of high species richness suggests several important areas for top predators.  First the breeding colonies and surrounding zones: Amsterdam and Saint Paul Islands, Marion and Prince Edward islands and the Del Cano Rise, Crozet Islands, Kerguelen Plateau and East Antarctica (Adélie Land sector). Second, the upwelling-current zones: Benguela and Agulhas Currents Systems and third several the oceanic zones: the Southwest Indian Ridge (East Bouvetøya and the North Subtropical Front), the Mid-Indian Ridge (North of Kerguelen and the Eastern Indian Ocean, the Southeast Indian Ridge (Great Australian Bight and Tasmania, Ob and Lena Banks, and East Antarctica (Prydz Bay - Queen Maud Land sectors, Adélie Land sector).  The analysis of distribution indicates that some pelagic species have a much wider foraging range outside the breeding season than during the breeding season (some disperse over very large areas, i.e. wandering albatross).  This highlights the urgent need to strengthen collaborations, namely between conservation and management organisms such as CCAMLR and the fisheries organisations (RFMOs), to ensure the protection of these species and the conservation of the ecosystem that will also be beneficial for many other species.  In conclusion, although this inventory of areas of key importance is preliminary because of the lack of data on several keystone species such as burrowing petrels which could not be studied in this work, the results presented here show an unprecedented improvement in the identification of priority areas within the Southern Indian Ocean, which should be the primary targets of site-based conservation efforts in the near future.”

 

Amsterdam Albatross at sea in the southern Indian Ocean, photograph by Kirk Zufelt

With thanks to Karine Delord for information.

Reference:

Delord, K., Barbraud, C., Bost, C.A., Cherel, Y., Guinet, C. & Weimerskirch, H. 2013 [published 2015].  Atlas of Top Predators from French Southern Territories in the Southern Indian Ocean.  Villiers en Bois: Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.  pp. 252.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 27 February 2015

The final phase of rodent eradication on the largest island tackled to date reaches halfway despite the weather

ACAP Latest News has reported regularly on progress with attempts to eradicate rodents by dropping poison bait from helicopters on South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur)* in the South Atlantic (click here).

A Team Rat helicopter with slung bait bucket flies over the island

The third and final phase of bait dropping is now underway, in the southern part (35% and 360 km²) of the island.  Rob Webster, Deputy Project Director of the South Georgia Habitat Restoration Project reported to ACAP this week of progress to date:

“We have passed the 50% mark - to be more precise, we sowed 33 pods of bait, which equates to a bit more than 10 tonnes of bait pellets spread today on the Barff Peninsula and takes us to 52% of Phase 3 baiting completed.  We are now within about 6 hours of work from finishing that baiting zone, the largest of the Phase 3 zones - at that point we should have eradicated rats from all the land from the entrance to Cumberland Bay down to the Ross and Hindle Glaciers at the head of Royal Bay.”

South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur)* showing the three baiting regions; top red Phase 2, Middle green Phase 1, bottom red , Phase 3

Daily e-mails received by ACAP from the island report that weather conditions have halted flying on a number of days this month.  In addition, gale-force winds made one of the three helicopters unserviceable so “Team Rat” has had its setbacks.

Related news from the South Georgia Heritage Trust is of the finding of the first South Georgia Pipit Anthus antarcticus nest, containing five chicks, in an area previously cleared of rodents in May 2013 as part of Phase 2 of the project.  The return of pipits to the main island from their refugia on offshore islets free of rats is suggestive that burrowing petrels, including the ACAP-listed White-chinned Petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis, will also fare better in the absence of rats.

 

The pipit nest - in the absence of rats

Click here to access Team Rat’s latest newsletter (Project News, No. 24 of February 2015) and here to read the latest on the eradication of introduced Reindeer Rangifer tarandus on the island.  More conservation news is in the latest South Georgia Newsletter.

With thanks to Keith Springer and Rob Webster for information.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 25 February 2015

*A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (Islas Georgias del Sur y Islas Sandwich del Sur) and the surrounding maritime areas.

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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