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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Crash-landed Hutton's Shearwater fledglings get rescued from the effects of light pollution in New Zealand while research on their at-sea movements continues

Over 180 Endangered Hutton's Puffinus huttoni Shearwater fledglings downed by bright lights have been rescued from roads in and around Kaikoura on New Zealand’s South Island so far this breeding season.  Following capture the young birds are measured, weighed, banded and released to sea.  The fledglings leave their two mountain colonies in the Seaward Kaikoura Range inland of Kaikoura and head towards the ocean but can become attracted to the town's street lights.

Banded fledgling

Lindsay Rowe of the Hutton's Shearwater Charitable Trust said they were flying down from the mountains and ended up on roads or in gardens.  "That's the most we've found for seven or eight years," Rowe said. "We picked up 45 last year, so we've done a lot more already.  The wind may have been a factor, getting exhausted battling the southerly."

Catch and release

Last year, a banded shearwater fledgling showed up six days later on the New South Wales coast of Australia, near Sydney.  Research on Hutton's Shearwaters fitted with geo-locators has revealed details of their winter migration to Australian waters, with birds either completing a clockwise or anti-clockwise circuit of that continent.  Young birds remain in Australian waters for 4-5 years before returning to breeding colonies in the Seaward Kaikoura Range.

Della Bennet of the University of Canterbury’s Department of Biological Sciences is undertaking MSc research into the foraging areas and behaviour of Hutton’s Shearwaters from the translocated Kaikoura Peninsula/Te Rae o Atiu colony as described below.

Understanding seabird diet is vital for conservation management, as food availability is dependent on environmental conditions that can affect the temporal and spatial distribution of prey species and in turn affect breeding and chick rearing.  These conditions can lead to a mismatch in resources and cause low growth rates, low fledging success and high chick mortality.  To date, very little is known about the diet of the Hutton’s shearwater, with previous studies based only on the gut content of dead carcasses.

Monitoring loggers (depth, temperature, wet/dry and time) will assess the daily foraging behaviour of Hutton’s shearwater adults from the Kaikoura Peninsula colony.  These loggers will allow the construction of an accurate activity budget and maximum diving depth.  The data collected by the loggers will be integrated with stable isotope analysis of the bird’s feathers and the Kaikoura nearshore food-web (fish and plankton) to investigate the birds’ diet.”

The above information and photographs are taken from recent postings to the Hutton's Shearwater Charitable Trust’s Facebook Page

Click here for a media report of the downed fledglings.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 23 March 2015

Emperor Seamounts: where Black-footed and Laysan Albatrosses co-occur with North Pacific longline and trawl fisheries

Bungo Nishizawa (Graduate School of Fisheries Sciences, Hokkaido University, Japan) and colleagues write in the journal Marine Biology on the at-sea distributions of Black-footed Phoebastria nigripes and Laysan P. immutabilis Albatrosses deduced from ship-based surveys in the North Pacific Transition Zone during the non-breeding season.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“The North Pacific Transition Zone (NPTZ) is one of the most productive offshore regions.  To identify important habitats for pelagic top predators within this region, we investigated the at-sea distributions of black-footed (Phoebastria nigripes) and Laysan albatrosses (P. immutabilis) by vessel-based surveys during their non-breeding season (July and October in 2010 and September and October in 2011).  We developed statistical models using satellite-based oceanographic data at spatial scales of 4, 20 and 80 km to explain their densities.  For both species, sea surface temperatures (SST) and distance to the Emperor Seamounts emerged as important factors in the better-fitting models at all spatial scales.  In addition, black-footed albatrosses were widely distributed in the NPTZ (SST17.7–27.4 °C), whereas Laysan albatrosses favoured northern and colder waters (13.6–25.4 °C).  Our results also indicated that the Emperor Seamounts, where trawling and longline fishing occur, were an important habitat for both species in the NPTZ.  Therefore, careful attention should be paid to interactions between fisheries and albatross species in this region”


Black-footed and Laysan Albatrosses, photograph by the Kure Atoll Conservancy


Nishizawa, B., Ochi, D., Minami, H., Yokawa, K., Saitoh, S.-I. & Watanuki, Y. 2015.  Habitats of two albatross species during the non-breeding season in the North Pacific Transition Zone.  Marine Biology 162: 743-752.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 22 March 2015

An Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross is recaptured on land carrying a home-made band from an Indonesian longliner

Jean-Baptiste Thiebot (Centre d’Études Biologiques de Chizé, Villiers-en-bois, France) and colleagues have written in the journal Polar Biology on the curious case of recapturing an albatross at its Amsterdam Island breeding site with a message added to its leg by a longliner at sea.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Commercial fisheries currently pose a serious threat at sea to the conservation of a number of pelagic seabirds.  However, these interactions are complex, and reports on population-specific bycatch in the high seas are scarce.  Here we report the case of an Indian yellow-nosed albatross Thalassarche carteri re-sighted on Amsterdam Island after an apparent capture by an Indonesian long-liner, as indicated by a message attached to the bird.  This record demonstrates that Amsterdam birds may interact with long-liners indeed, at least during winter, and that such interactions are not systematically lethal.  We suggest that bycatch sub-lethal effects should be investigated at colonies with high risks of individual capture at sea.”

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, photograph by Peter Ryan


Thiebot, J.-B., Demy, J., Marteau, C. & Weimerskirch, H. 2015.  The rime of the modern mariner: evidence for capture of yellow-nosed albatross from Amsterdam Island in Indian Ocean longline fisheries.  Polar Biology DOI 10.1007/s00300-015-1680-5.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 21 March 2015

Translocated Chatham Albatross chicks survive Cyclone Pam

Welcome news from the Chatham Island Taiko Trust is that this season’s cohort of translocated Vulnerable Chatham Albatross Thalassarche eremita chicks have survived Cyclone Pam.

In the first year of the project 50 chicks from the Pyramid breeding colony all fledged successfully after being artificially fed at the translocation site at Point Gap, on the south-west coast of Main Chatham (click here).

In the current breeding season 40 chicks were transferred to Point Gap (click here).


The 2015 cohort gets settled into their artificial nests and are hand-fed squid

Photographs courtesy of the Chatham Island Taiko Trust

The cyclone has given the Chatham Islands “a hammering” with damage reported across the island but the albatross chicks are “holding out alright” and made it made it through the night of the storm of 15/16 March.  The storm brought winds up to 140 km/h to the islands prompting the declaration of a civil defence emergency.  Downed trees cut power, although no major damage was reported.

Follow news of the chicks on the Trust's Facebook Page.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 20 February 2015

A one-eyed Laysan Albatross is looking for a mate on Kauai for the third year

An adult Laysan Albatross Phoebastria immutabilis blind in its left eye has been seen in the north-east of Kauai, one of the USA’s Hawaiian Islands, for the last two breeding seasons.  The bird has been observed courting on a private property but had not as yet commenced breeding (click here).


One eye good enough? The courting bird on the right is half blind, photographs by Hob Osterlund

It has now returned to the island for the third year in a row.  The bird was seen to be engaging in brief courtship activities and calling to birds flying by.  It will be interesting to see if it is successful in attracting a partner this time.  It is thought that the blindness, and a minor cossed bill, could have been caused by avian pox contracted from mosquitoes when the albatross was a young chick – which would mean it had survived for several years with only one good eye before becoming a prospecting adult.

With thanks to Hob Osterlund for information and the photographs.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 19 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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