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.

Black-browed Albatrosses forage inshore in Tierra del Fuego, Chile

Javier Arata (Instituto Antártico Chileno, Punta Arenas, Chile) and colleagues write in the journal Polar Biology on inshore foraging by Black-browed Albatrosses Thalassarche melanophris that breed within Admiralty Sound, Tierra del Fuego.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Black-browed albatrosses are the most abundant albatross species of the southern hemisphere, breeding on sub-Antarctic and Antarctic oceanic islands around the globe.  Their foraging habitat during the breeding season is reasonably well known along its distributional range, indicating a preferred use of waters <500 m deep.  The discovery of a colony inserted within the Admiralty Sound, Tierra del Fuego, poses an interesting challenge to the known precepts on foraging behavior for the species.  In this study, we present the first record on the foraging distribution of the only known inner-channel colony of albatrosses in the world, using high-resolution GPS loggers.  Black-browed albatrosses breeding at the Albatross Islet used exclusively inner-channel waters, at least during the chick-guard stage.  Our results indicate a significant smaller foraging range during chick-guard compared with conspecifics from Diego Ramirez and Falklands/Malvinas Islands.  Implications for the conservation of this colony are discussed.”


Black-browed Albatross, photograph by Genevieve Jones


Arata, J., Vila, A.J., Matus, R., Droguett, D., Silva-Quintas, C., Falabella, V., Robertson, G. & Haro, D. 2014.  Use and exploitation of channel waters by the black-browed albatross.  Polar Biology DOI 10.1007/s00300-014-1458-1.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 26 February 2014

You go that way, I’ll go this way. How do three albatross species at South Africa’s Marion Island partition resources at sea?

Maëlle Connan (Zoology Department, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa) and colleagues have published in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series on diets of three albatross species at Marion Island.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“A combination of dietary techniques that integrate data on food and feeding habits over days, weeks and months was used to investigate resource partitioning among 3 sympatric albatrosses, namely the grey-headed Thalassarche chrysostoma (GHA), light-mantled sooty Phoebetria palpebrata (LMSA) and sooty Phoebetria fusca (SA) albatrosses.  These medium-size albatrosses typically breed every 2 yr, and Marion Island (southern Indian Ocean) is the only breeding site where the 3 species are accessible.  Stomach content analysis provided dietary information about the most recent meal, analysis of fatty acids in stomach oils about the last foraging trip, and carbon and nitrogen stable isotope values of blood and feathers about the chick-rearing (breeding) and moulting periods, respectively.  The combination of techniques highlighted a complex pattern regarding the spatial and trophic segregation between the 3 species.  During both seasons, SA were spatially segregated from LMSA and GHA, foraging farther north (in subantarctic and subtropical areas) than the 2 other species (subantarctic and Antarctic waters).  When feeding for themselves during the breeding season (blood isotopic signatures), adults showed a clear spatial segregation.  When bringing back food for their chicks (stomach contents), trophic segregation became obvious, with the 2 Phoebetria species specializing mostly on squids.  The results illustrate how sympatrically breeding birds can show niche partitioning through both spatial segregation and prey specialization.”

Sooty Albatross chick on Marion Island, photograph by Marienne de Villiers

With thanks to Maëlle Connan for information.


Connan, M., McQuaid, C.D., Bonnevie, B.T., Smale, M.J. & Cherel, Y. 2014.  Combined stomach content, lipid and stable isotope analyses reveal spatial and trophic partitioning among three sympatric albatrosses from the Southern Ocean.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 497: 259-272.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 25 February 2014

The Chatham Island Albatross Translocation Project succeeds in transferring 30 chicks from The Pyramid

The Vulnerable Chatham Albatross Thalassarche eremita breeds only at a single locality, The Pyramid, a privately-owned rock stack in the Chatham Islands, New Zealand.

The Pyramid: home of the Chatham Albatross

Photograph by David Thompson

On 21 January 30 downy chicks were collected from The Pyramid and moved by boat to a privately-owned release site at Point Gap, on the south-west coast of Main Chatham, where artificial nests and dummy adults had been previously set up (click here for a video clip of the operation).  The translocated chicks are being hand-fed daily on blended squid-mackerel “smoothies” and chunks of squid until they fledge in three to four months’ time.

Loading chicks at The Pyramid

On the way to the translocation site

At the translocation site before the chicks arrive: dummies and "nests" in place

Translocated chicks settle into the artificial colony among the dummy adults


Hand-feeding chicks in the translocation colony

It is intended to translocate chicks over three summers.  Fledged chicks could start returning to the colony at the age of four, and begin breeding at the age of seven.

The Chatham Island Taiko Trust is a non-profit community conservation trust, established in 1998 by Chatham residents, to protect and recover the unique and precious island's wildlife with the support and involvement of the Chatham Island community.  The trust was originally created to conserve the Critically Endangered Magenta Petrel Pterodroma magentae or Taiko.

The Chatham Island Albatross Translocation Project is partnered with the Yamashina Institute of Ornithology in Japan as well as with Chatham Island landowners.  Additional support for the translocation project has been received from the Royal Forest and Bird Society, BirdLife International, Chatham Island Conservation Board, Enterprise Trust and owners of The Pyramid, as well as from the local Chatham Island community.

The project is following methods developed by Tomohiro Deguchi and colleagues of the Yamashina Institute which is attempting to establish a new breeding population of threatened Short-tailed Albatrosses Phoebastria albatrus on Japan’s Mukojima Island (click here).

You can follow the fortunes of the Chatham Island Albatross Translocation Project on the Trust’s Facebook page.

Click here to access the ACAP Species Assessment for the Chatham Albatross and here to read earlier ACAP Latest News items on the translocation.

Translocation photographs by the Chatham Island Taiko Trust.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 24 February 2014

Toroa, the colony’s 500th Northern Royal Albatross, returns to Taiaroa Head

Taiaroa Head supports New Zealand’s only mainland breeding colony of albatrosses, where ACAP-listed and Endangered Northern Royals Diomedea sanfordi may be viewed by the public.

Seven years  since he hatched in 2007 Taiaroa Head's 500th albatross chick has returned to the colony.  The bird has been named Toroa - the Maori word for albatross.  He is the son of Button, the last chick Grandma produced in 1989.  At 62 years of age Grandma was then the oldest recorded albatross in the World and was one of the first birds banded in the colony by Lance Richdale in 1938.

The 500th Northern Royal Albatross chick at Taiaroa Head, Otago Peninsula

Photograph by Lyndon Perriman

Toroa back at Taiaroa Head, photograph by Department of Conservation

“Department of Conservation ranger Lyndon Perriman said most royal northern albatross fledglings returned from their journey to their South American feeding grounds within four or five years, six at the outside.  He had initially been confident Toroa would return after a tracking device put on him and three others had shown he was still alive and feeding off the coast of South America 12 months later.”

Read more about Toroa in the Otago Daily Times for 5 February.

Twenty-four albatross chicks have hatched successfully this year at Taiaroa Head.

Selected Literature:

Peat, Neville 2011.  Seabird Genius: The Story of L.E. Richdale, the Royal Albatross, and the Yellow-eyed Penguin.  Dunedin: Otago University Press.  288 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 23 February 2014

ACAP’s Executive Secretary, Warren Papworth to present a seminar in the USA next week on that country becoming a Party to the Agreement

Warren Papworth, Executive Secretariat of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels will next week give a lecture in the NOAA Central Library Brown Bag Seminar Series in Washington, D.C., USA on 27 February on the subject “Why the United States Should Join the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels”.

The lecture’s on-line abstract follows:

“The U.S. has played an active role in the work of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), participating in all of the preparatory meetings to negotiate the Agreement, as well as all the subsequent meetings held once the Agreement came into force in 2004.  Although President Bush transmitted the Agreement in 2008 (pdf) to the Senate for its advice and consent to accession, and the Departments of Commerce and the Interior submitted OMB-cleared proposed implementing legislation to Congress in 2009 (pdf), the United States has not yet become a party.

Fifteen of the 22 species of albatrosses are threatened with extinction, primarily due to high levels of mortality resulting from their bycatch in fishing operations.  Albatrosses are highly migratory species, with many having a circumpolar foraging range.  Consequently, it is not possible for one country alone to address this key threat, as it occurs not only in their territorial waters, but also on the high seas and in the territorial waters of other States.  It was for this reason that ACAP was established - to coordinate international action to address this threat.

The United States is a breeding Range State to the Agreement, having jurisdiction over the breeding sites for three species of albatrosses*.  In his presentation, Mr. Papworth will explain that the United States should join ACAP because it has demonstrated that it is an effective international organisation that has been successful in achieving conservation measures that will protect albatrosses outside the United States' jurisdiction e.g. in fisheries managed by regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) such as the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.”

The seminar is sponsored by the International Section of the NOAA Office of General Counsel.  It will be held from 12h00 – 13h00 in the NOAA Central Library, 2nd Floor, SSMC#3, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, Maryland.

Shorty-tailed Albatross with chick in 2012 on USA's Midway Atoll

Photograph by Pete Leary

Click here for an earlier ACAP Latest News item on an on-line petition calling on the USA to become a Party to ACAP: now reached 3776 signatures.

*Black-footed Phoebastria nigripes, Laysan P. immutabilis and Short-tailed P. albatrus.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 22 February 2014

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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