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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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Scopoli’s Shearwaters in the Mediterranean fly towards fishing harbours to forage

Jacopo Cecere (ISPRA - Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, Ozzano dell ’Emilia, Italy) and colleagues have published in the journal Ibis on the foraging habitat preferences of Scopoli’s Shearwaters Calonectris diomedea in the Mediterranean Sea.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“The distribution of seabirds at sea is influenced by physical, ecological and anthropogenic factors such as sea depth, prey distribution, intra-specific competition and commerical [sic] fishing activities.  We quantified the foraging habitat preferences of Scopoli’s Shearwater Calonectris diomedea in the Mediterranean Sea. We analysed habitat preferences in relation to a suite of physical and ecological variables including sea depth, net primary production and distance to other colonies (as a proxy of intra-specific competition).  Since the Mediterranean is heavily impacted by commercial fisheries, we also incorporated the distance to fishing harbours in our analyses as a proxy of the availability of discards which are a potential feeding source for Scopoli’s Shearwater.  Foraging birds preferred shallower waters and avoided areas close to other colonies, thereby reducing interactions with conspecifics.  We also found that long-distance trips were undertaken to areas close to fishing harbours, suggesting that these represented particularly profitable locations to compensate for the greater travelling costs involved.  No differences in foraging between the sexes were recorded.  This study improves our understanding of the at-sea distribution and habitat preference of a seabird inhabiting the over-exploited Mediterranean Sea.  Our results support growing evidence that seabirds exhibit complex relationships with commerical fishing activities, which must be considered when planning conservation programmes.”


Scopoli's Shearwater at sea, photograph by Jacob Gonzalez-Solis 

With thanks to Barry Baker for information.


Cecere, J.G., Catoni, C., Gaibani, G., Geraldes, P., Celada, C. & Imperio, S. 2015.  Commercial fisheries, inter-colony competition and sea depth affect foraging location of breeding Scopoli’s Shearwaters Calonectris diomedea.  Ibis  doi: 10.1111/ibi.12235.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 03 February 2015

Book review: “Albatross of Kaua’i. The Story of Kaloakulua”

Kaloakulua must now be pretty famous.  The offspring of Kaluahine and Kaluakane, a pair of Laysan Albatrosses Phoebastria immutabilis on the north-east shore of the USA’s Kauai Island, its growth from hatching to fledging was livestreamed for 148 days last year to thousands of online viewers by a “trosscam” operated by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

Seen the movie, now read the book!

Susan Dierker, a resident of Kauai, has written an account for children of Kaloakulua’s first year of life as a chick.  The hard-cover book of 44 pages is made up Susan’s evocative paintings of special scenes captured by the remote camera.  These include Kaloakualua (designated to be a female) being visited by a rooster called George, checking out some passing egrets and meeting up with Mango, another Laysan chick from a nearby nest.  At the end of the book the chick successfully fledges and flies out to sea.

Dierker front cover

Having brought up a daughter who had books read to her nightly until she could read them herself, I can classify children’s picture books into three types.  First, books with just illustrations for very young children, then those with a simple text for each picture so you can allow the child to see and follow the words you are reading out, then for older children those books where you can help them spell out the text themselves.  I place Susan Dierker’s nicely printed and bound book in between the second and third categories.  In fact, I wish I had it two decades back to read out at bedtime.

The short sentences accompanying each painting are all in large capitals and many of the words used come with their Hawaiian versions (for example a Laysan Albatross is a Mōlī and a chicken is a Moa).

The DVD has 10 clips from the livestreaming camera that well complement the book, including KK’s interaction with George.  All in all the book and DVD make a nice package to help persuade your offspring that albatrosses are seriously cool.

Kauai’s trosscam is back in operation again this year, following two nests that are hatching right now (click here); another book, Susan?

Click here to view ACAP’s listing of other children’s books on albatrosses and petrels: it’s been visited over 4700 times.


Dierker, Susan 2014.  Albatross of Kaua’i.  The Story of Kaloakulua.  Hanalei: Done by Dogs Publishing.  Unpaginated [44 pp] + DVD.  ISBN 978-0-9832386-2-1.  Hard cover with coloured illustrations.  US$ 20.00.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 02 February 2014

A record breeding year for Laysan Albatrosses safely behind their fence at Kaena Point

Laysan Albatrosses Phoebastria immutabilis have been doing well this breeding season with record numbers reported for the atolls in the North-western Hawaiian Islands (click here).

A Laysan Albatross family at Kaena Point, photograph by Lindsay Young

Relatively few Laysans breed on the inhabited main islands in the Hawaiian chain but those that do are of conservation significance because their breeding sites are less at risk to sea-level rise caused by climate change.  Good news then that at least one of these colonies, at Oahu’s Kaena Point where the birds are protected by a predator-proof fence, is also having a record year, as reported last month by Hawaiian journalist Susan Scott in her regular blog, Ocean Watch:

“Lindsay Young and Eric Vanderwerf report this is a record year for Laysan albatrosses inside the fence: 94 couples are nesting, accompanied by uncounted adolescents there to sing, dance and find a mate.  The birds that come to Kaena are not just offspring of the local population.  Many are explorers displaced from other islands and searching for a new place to breed.  Because albatross pioneers are mostly females, Kaena Point hosts more females than males.  Young and Vanderwerf determined that about one-third of the nesters there are female-female pairs successfully raising chicks.”

Sue Scott poses with her artwork made out of cigarette lighters ingested by Laysan Albatrosses

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

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 01 February 2015

Second record of a Salvin’s Albatross on Gough Island

ACAP Latest News has previously reported on vagrant albatrosses of the mollymawk genus Thalassarche turning up in colonies of other mollymawk species (click here).

One of these species, the Salvin’s Albatross T. salvini, has been recorded as a vagrant on a number of islands in the Southern Ocean, including on Gough Island (click here) and as referenced below.

The first Salvin’s Albatross reported from Gough Island was photographed ashore on 21 October 2008 on the slopes of Richmond Hill loafing among breeding Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatrosses T. chlororhynchos.

First record of a Salvin's Albatross on Gough, photographs by Paul Visser 

The second record for the island was made on 17 January this year when an adult Salvin’s Albatross was seen on the lower slopes of Richmond Hill near Prion Cave and then again two days later on a rock in the Gony River above Swemgat when it was measured (bill, wing and tarsus), banded (SAFRING No. 9A-69251) and photographed.

Second record of a Salvin's Albatross on Gough Island, photographs by Michelle Risi

Although it is quite possible the two sightings are of the same bird there appears to be no way of confirming this, as the bird seen in 2008 was not banded.

With thanks to Chris Jones, Michelle Risi and Paul Visser for information and photographs.


Arata, J. 2003.  New record of Salvin's Albatross (Thalassarche salvini) at the Diego Ramirez Islands, Chile.  Notornis 50: 169-171.

Jouventin, P. 1990.  Shy Albatrosses Diomedea cauta salvini breeding on Penguin Island, Crozet Archipelago, Indian Ocean.  Ibis 132: 126-127.

Prince, P.A. & Croxall, J.P. 1983.  Birds of South Georgia: new records and re-evaluations of status.  British Antarctic Survey Bulletin 59: 15-27.

Prince, P.A. & Croxall, J.P. 1996.  The birds of South Georgia.  Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 116: 81-104.

Shirihai, H. 2007.  A Complete Guide to Antarctic Wildlife.  The Birds and Marine Mammals of the Antarctic Continent and the Southern Ocean.  London: A & C Black.

Visser, P., Louw, H., Cuthbert, R.[J.] & Ryan, P.[G.] 2009.  Salvin’s Albatross Thalassarche salvini on Gough Island, South Atlantic.  Bulletin of the African Bird Club 16: 215-216.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 31 January 2015

Plans to save the Near Threatened Cape Verde Shearwater

The following text is précised and adapted from a report by BirdLife International.

About 20 participants from Cape Verde, Senegal, South Africa, Spain and Portugal participated in a workshop in Mindelo, Cape Verde from 1st to 4th December 2014, aiming to develop the Cape Verde Shearwater Species Action Plan.

The Cape Verde Shearwater Calonectris edwardsii is a breeding endemic to the Cape Verde Islands, recently recognised as a full species after being split from Scopoli's Shearwater C. diomedea.  The species is classified as Near Threatened and is protected by law in Cape Verde.  Unauthorised entrance to the islets of Raso and Branco, where the largest known breeding colonies are situated, is officially illegal, but there are limited means of enforcement or control of the law.  Uncontrolled high levels of hunting, poaching at main nesting sites, light pollution, invasive species and accidental mortality due to fisheries are the main threats that continue to threaten the species.

The Ministry of Environment of Cape Verde, in collaboration with a local NGO, Associaçao para Defesa do Meio Ambiente (Biosfera I) and with the support of BirdLife International and International Foundation of Banc d'Arguin (FIBA), organised a four-day workshop to identify conservation priorities.

Cape Verde Shearwaters, photograph by Jacob González-Solís

The goal of the Cape Verde Shearwater Species Action Plan is to improve the Cape Verde Shearwater's conservation status, by raising it from the Near Threatened to the Least Concern category. The following objectives were agreed upon at the workshop:

  • to reduce chick mortality due to hunting;
  • to improve knowledge of distribution, population size and demographic trends;
  • to restore and protect breeding sites from invasive species;
  • to reduce mortality linked to light pollution;
  • to improve knowledge on mortality in different fisheries; and
  • to reduce mortality of birds in Cape Verde fisheries.

Workshop participants visited the Sinagoga fishing community on Santo Antao Island.  This gave everyone a chance to meet the former poachers of Cagarra (the local name for Cape Verde Shearwater) and to get an understanding of the socio-economics of fishing and poaching.  The fishing group is now working with Biosfera by taking the lead in conservation of the species and participating in its monitoring.

The institutions and organisations participating in the workshop committed themselves to implementing some of the activities identified in the plan and also accepted responsibility for communicating it widely to other stakeholders.

Click here for an earlier account on the action plan for the Cape Verde Shearwater

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 30 January 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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