Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

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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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Identifying a winter “nursery” for Great Shearwaters in the northern hemisphere

Great Shearwaters 

 Two Great Shearwaters interact at sea, photograph by Dann Blackwood

Kevin Powers (Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Scituate, Massachusetts, USA) and colleagues have published open access in the journal Marine Ornithology on at-sea tracking  of Great Shearwaters Ardenna gravis in the north-western Atlantic Ocean.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Movements of Great Shearwaters Ardenna gravis wintering in the Northwest Atlantic showed age-based spatial and temporal flexibility, with foraging tactics linked to a defined physical preference of their primary prey. From 2013 to 2018, we tracked 58 Great Shearwaters during their wintering season using platform terminal transmitters deployed in the same area of the southwest Gulf of Maine. Utilization distributions (UDs) for individual birds were created from convex hulls, which were then combined for spatial and temporal analyses. Of the 95% kernel UDs, 55% were contained within the Gulf of Maine and the remainder extended to the Scotian Shelf off Nova Scotia and the Grand Banks off Newfoundland. Analysis of fecal DNA from tagged birds and others captured with them indicated that Northern sand lance Ammodytes dubius were the primary prey while in the Gulf of Maine. This relationship was supported by the overlap of UDs and sand lance habitat. The spatial occurrence of sand lance from bottomfish trawl survey data demonstrated that these fish preferred shallow water (< 100 m deep) with substrates consisting of high sand content (> 50%) and grain sizes ranging from 0.35-2.00 mm in diameter. These same properties were associated and spatially aligned with the collective 25% kernel UD of Great Shearwaters. Necropsy of bycaught Great Shearwaters from an area that overlapped in space and time with tagged individuals and sand lance habitat demonstrated that most birds (89%) were young (0-2 years), based on gonadal development, molt score, and/or bursa of Fabricius. Coupling demographic information from necropsies with spatial habits and movement timing of tagged birds suggests this region serves as a winter “nursery” for Great Shearwaters.”

Access a related paper on Great Shearwaters at sea by Kevin Powers here.


Powers, K.D., Wiley, D.N., Robuck, A.R., Olson, Z.H., Welch, L.J., Thompson, M.A. & Kaufman, L. 2020.  Spatiotemporal characterization of non-breeding Great Shearwaters Ardenna gravis within their wintering range.  Marine Ornithology 48: 215-229.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 09 September 2020

Presentations on albatrosses and bycatch at the Pacific Seabird Group’s 2020 meeting

PSG 2020 

The Pacific Seabird Group held its 47th Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon, USA over 12 - 15 February this year.  A list of presentations on albatrosses and seabird bycatch by fisheries with their senior authors follows.  Their abstracts may be found online.  Note next year’s annual meeting will be a ‘virtual' one, held online.  Abstracts of earlier meetings may be found here.


Using high resolution satellite imagery to count nesting pacific albatross.  Jane Dolliver

Short-Tailed Albatross (Phoebastria albatrus) recent and historical nesting activity at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.  Theresa Geelhoed

Seabird interactions with the catcher-processor trawl fleet targeting Pacific Hake off the U.S. west coast.  Amanda Gladics

NOAA Fisheries National Seabird Program: advancing conservation, sustainable fisheries, and ecosystem-based management.  Annette Henry

Seabird sensory ecology, morphology and bycatch.  Ariel Heswall

Mice to eat you: uncovering the diet of invasive House Mice.  Wieteke Holthuijzen

species identification by deep learning with bycatch seabird photo taken in pelagic longline scientific observer research.  Yukiko Inoue

Short-tailed Albatross translocation: how'd it go, and what's up now? Jessy Jacobs [Note no results given in abstract]

Using Bayesian models to estimate Black-footed Albatross bycatch in the U.S. west coast demersal longline Sablefish fishery.  Jason Jannot

International cooperation to reduce interactions between seabirds and fisheries.  Mi Ae Kim

A review of seabird bycatch and mitigation efforts in Alaska fisheries from 2010 through 2018.  Joseph Krieger

Development of automated seabird species recognition for use in electronic monitoring applications.  Braden Moore

Seabird restoration - addressing introduced predators and rapidly rising sea level.  Jay Penniman (Black-footed & Laysan Albatrosses)

A summary of albatross band recovery data in the Hawaii deep and shallow set longline fisheries.  John Peschon

Global seabird bycatch assessment in tuna longline fisheries with focus on the southern hemisphere.  Yasuko Suzuki

Midway Seabird Protection Project - the final countdown.  Jared Underwood


Pacific Seabird Group 47th Annual Meeting, Portland, Oregon, 12 - 15 February 2020.  Book of Abstracts.  94 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 08 September 2020

** DEADLINE EXTENDED ** BirdLife South Africa makes a call for a Mouse-Free Marion Project Manager


Please Note:  An extension has been granted for expressions of interest for the Mouse Free Marion Project Manager. The new deadline is 30 September 2020. All submissions already received will still be considered for this contract position.

 Grey headed Albatross mouse wound Fitztitute 

A Grey-headed Albatross chick ‘scalped’ by mice on Marion Island, photograph courtesy of the FitzPatrick Institute

South Africa’s sub-Antarctic Marion Island is overrun by introduced House Mice Mus musculus, which in the last decade have taken to attacking and killing the island’s albatrosses and petrels, notably chicks of the globally threatened Grey-headed Thalassarche chrysostoma and Wandering Diomedea exulans Albatrosses (click here for previous ACAP Latest News posts on Marion’s mice).

 To address the problem a call has now been made for Expressions of Interest for “a highly qualified, dedicated and dynamic” Mouse-Free Marion Project Manager.  The project is a joint endeavour between the South African Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) and the environmental NGO BirdLife South Africa, as described on the “Mouse Free Marion” website.

The scope of the project manager’s work will include reviewing and refining the Mouse-Free Marion Project and its operational plans and assisting with the appointment of the Operations Manager and the eradication team.  Qualifying requirements for the position include a minimum of 10 years’ experience in project/business management at a senior level.  Project management experience in island-based invasive mammal eradication will be an additional advantage.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant travel restrictions has led to pauses in eradication projects on New Zealand’s Auckland Island, United Kingdom’s Gough Island and the USA’s Midway Atoll, all supporting large populations of ACAP-listed species.  Perhaps these three islands, along with Marion, can still all be declared free of introduced mammals by the end of the decade.

The Project Manager will be based in Cape Town, South Africa.  The initial contract period will be for 2.5 – 3 years, with a six-month probation period based on initial progress achieved. The position is being advertised internationally and is not restricted to South African citizens/permanent residents.   Assumption of contract would be by 1 January 2021; closing date for applications: 3 September 2020. The eradication exercise is currently proposed to be undertaken in the winter of 2023.

Apply to Isabel Human ( with the subject title MOUSE-FREE MARION PROJECT MANAGER.  For further information, contact Alistair McInnes (  Read more details here.

With thanks to Carol Jacobs, Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries & Nini van der Merwe, BirdLife South Africa for information.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 07 August 2022, updated 07 September 2020

ACAP funds seven projects from its 2019 Small Grants Programme – and makes a call for 2020 applications

Balearic Shearwater Pep Arcos 

Balearic Shearwater at sea, photograph by Pep Arcos

The Small Grants Programme aims to assist ACAP meet its objective of achieving and maintaining a favourable conservation status for albatrosses and petrels.

Sixteen applications were received from seven Parties in response to the 2019 call by the ACAP Small Grants Programme made in September last year.  Of these, seven projects from six Parties were approved for funding, as set out below. Notable are three funded projects to study aspects of the Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus.  Funding disbursed totalled AUS$ 134 296.

It is expected that execution of at least some of the funded projects may be delayed to a greater or lesser extent by travel or other restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Project Title

Project Manager


Examining the efficacy of the ‘snatch block’ in reducing seabird bycatch in Southern Cone trawl fisheries

Cristián Suazo
Albatross Task Force-Chile/ BirdLife International-CODEFF


Complete population survey of Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata on Española Island, Galapagos

Washington Tapia Aguiler
Galapagos Conservancy


Estimating encounter with fisheries and mortality risks of juvenile Wandering and Amsterdam Albatrosses

Henri Weimerskirch
Centre d’Études Biologiques de Chizé (CEBC-CNRS)


Development of a bird-scaring line compliance monitoring device

Andrea Angel
BirdLife South Africa


Colaborando para el desarrollo de medidas de mitigación de las capturas accidentales de pardela balear y otras aves marinas en el Mediterráneo español [Working together to develop measures to mitigate bycatch of Balearic Shearwater and other seabirds in the Spanish Mediterranean]

José Manuel 'Pep' Arcos


Factores influyentes en la mortalidad de la pardela balear Puffinus mauretanicus por la contaminación lumínica [Factors influencing the mortality of the Balearic Shearwater due to light pollution]

Airam Rodríguez Martín
Islands Biodiversity Research Initiative (IRBI)


Demographic monitoring, at-sea movements, and scavenging behaviour in the Balearic Shearwater

Tim Guilford
Department of Zoology
Oxford University

Applications are now sought to the 2020 round of the Small Grants Programme for project funding in 2021.  Total funding of approximately AUD 86 000 is available for allocation. Applicants are encouraged to develop proposals that account for the practical challenges and limitations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applications close on 30 October 2020.  Applications will only be accepted from ACAP Parties, and may be submitted in English, French or Spanish.  Applicants will be advised of the outcome of their applications by 28 February 2021.  Click here to access detailed  information and the 2020 application form available in all three ACAP official languages..

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 07 September 2020

Oldsters getting sneaky? Coordination in parental effort decreases with age in Black-browed Albatrosses

Black browed Albatross Kerguelen Deborah Pardo 

Black--browed Albatross on France's Kerguelen Island, photograph by Deborah Pardo

Samantha Patrick (School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, UK) and colleagues have published open access in the journal Oikos showing that coordination of incubation bouts decreases through the lifetime of Black‐browed Albatrosses Thalassarche melanophris.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Biparental care is widespread in avian species.  Individuals may match the contribution of their partner, resulting in equal parental effort, or may exploit their partner, to minimise their own investment.  These two hypotheses have received much theoretical and empirical attention in short‐lived species, that change mates between seasons.  However, in species with persistent pair bonds, where divorce rate is low and costly, selective pressures are different, as partners share the value of future reproduction.  In such species, coordination has been suggested to be adaptive and to increase early in life, as a consequence of the importance of mate familiarity.  However, as birds age, an increase in re‐pairing probability occurs in parallel to a decline in their survival probability.  At the point when partners no longer share future reproductive success, exploitation of a partner could become adaptive, reducing selection for coordinated effort.  As such, we suggest that coordination in parental effort will decline with age in long‐lived species.  Using incubation bout duration data, estimated from salt‐water immersion bio‐loggers, deployed on black‐browed albatrosses Thalassarche melanophris, we examined the correlation in incubation bout durations for sequential bouts, as a measure of coordination.  Our results show that coordination is highest in inexperienced pairs (early in reproductive life) and declines throughout the lifetime of birds.  This suggests that both cooperation, indicated by coordinated effort, and conflict over care occurs in this species.  We find no change in bout duration with increasing breeding experience, and hence no support for the hypothesis that aging leads to changes in individual incubation behaviour.  This is, to our knowledge, the first study to demonstrate strong coordination in parental care when pairs share future reproductive success, but a decline in coordination with age, as sexual conflict increases.”


Patrick, S.C., Corbeau, A., Réale, D. & Weimerskirch, H. 2020.  Coordination in parental effort decreases with age in a long‐lived seabird.  Oikos

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 04 September 2020