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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A ten-day-old Northern Royal Albatross chick succumbs to ingested plastic

2chick plastic death 2A Northern Royal Albatross chick in ICU after eating plastic, photograph by the Wildlife Hospital

A 10-day old Endangered Northern Royal Albatross Diomedea sanfordi chick has died while under care in the Wildlife Hospital in Dunedin after it swallowed soft plastic that had been regurgitated to it by its parent at Taiaroa Head/Pukekura, South Island, New Zealand.  The soft but tough plastic was discovered during necropsy to have caused an obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract, which ultimately led to starvation and organ failure.

chick plastic death 5Plastic (and squid beaks) found in the regurgitation of an albatross chick, photograph by the Department of Conservation

Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger Sharyn Broni said it was the first death of its kind at the Taiaroa Head colony, but rangers had feared something like this could happen after other close calls in recent years.

“This heartbreaking incident is a reminder it's vital to dispose of plastic rubbish carefully.  People can also help by picking up litter they see on beaches, near waterways, or out on the ocean. Every piece you pick up could save a seabird's life.”

Northern Royal Albatross chick plastic pony Theo Thompson
My Little Pony”, photograph by Theo Thompson

In May 2021, a 9-cm-long plastic pony toy, which had been regurgitated by a parent, was found in a chick's nest.  Fortunately, in that case the chick did not swallow it, Broni said.

"DOC staff found plastic in almost all the [albatross] chick regurgitations checked last season.  The most common plastics seen were bottlecaps, however items like a plastic syringe were also found.”

Read more on the hatchling's death.  Previous plastic items in addition to the pony toy found associated with Taiaroa Head’s albatrosses have included bottle caps, squid lures, fishing floats, a container tab and the handle of an infant formula scoop.

Plastic pollution was the theme for last year’s World Albatross Day (WAD2023) on 19 June.

John Cooper, Emeritus Information Officer, Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, 28 March 2024

154th American Fisheries Conference: call for abstracts

AFS makau updated 2048x1936

Abstract submission has opened for the 154th American Fisheries Conference under the theme, “Conserving Fishes and Fishing Traditions through Knowledge Co-Production”. 

The conference, which is co-hosted by the Western Division and the Pacific Islands Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, is taking place 15 – 19 September 2024 in Honolulu, Hawaii. 

The program contains a broad variety of sessions, “focusing on the past, present, and future of fisheries conservation and management”.

Of particular note to ACAP is Session SP-11: Managing fisheries bycatch of threatened species, organised by Eric Gilman, Fisheries Research Group, The Safina Center.

“Fisheries targeting highly productive species can have profound impacts on co-occurring species also susceptible to capture that have long generation lengths, low fecundity and other life history traits that make them vulnerable to anthropogenic mortality. There has been increasing concern over the sustainability of bycatch mortality of marine megafauna given their vulnerability to exploitation, ecosystem-level cascading effects from declines in abundance and reduced population fitness from fisheries-induced evolution. There has also been increasing attention to risks from bycatch to food, nutrition and livelihood security. The session’s presentations and discussion will cover priority topics in fisheries bycatch science and policy.”

The deadline for abstract submission is 26 April 2024, and registration for the conference will open in April.

For more information about the conference including the program, travel details and abstract submission, please see the conference website, here.

27 March 2024

Wisdom, the world’s oldest known Laysan Albatross, still has it – engaging in mutual displays into her 70s

Wisdom displays 18 March 2024 Nick Minnich 1Wisdom (right) displays with another Laysan Albatross, 18 March 2024

Wisdom, a Laysan Albatross Phoebastria immutabilis on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge’s Sand Island, is the world’s oldest known wild bird.  Now into her 70s, she was sighted wearing her now well-known plastic leg band red Z333 on 18 March 2024, engaging in mutual displays with other Laysan Albatrosses at her former nest site.

“Wisdom was previously last sighted in January 2024 in search of a new mate after her former mate did not return during the early winter 2023 breeding season.  It is extremely unlikely that she will find that one and only “mature” mate so late in the 2024 nesting season but it is not for lack of trying! She truly is one of the grandest of grandmothers in the animal kingdom.”

On 24 and 25 December 2023 Wisdom was seen displaying with an unbanded male, she was first recorded for the 2023/24 breeding season on 03 December last year.  Her last partner, named Akeakamai, has not been seen this and in the two previous seasons and is likely to be no longer alive (click here).  Let’s hope she can find a new mate in the 2024/25 season and breeds once more.

Wisdom displays 18 March 2024 Nick Minnich 2Wisdom (centre) displays with three other Laysan Albatrosses, 18 March 2024
Photographs by Nick Minnich, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Volunteer

View Wisdom's latest photo shoot by Nick Minnich.  News from the Friends of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.  Access the many previous posts about Wisdom  in ACAP Latest News from here.

John Cooper, Emeritus Information Officer, Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, 26 March 2024

ACAP releases the 2024 World Albatross Day poster: “Marine Protected Areas: Safeguarding our Oceans”

WALD 2024 Poster English 02New Zealand’s Near Threatened Buller's Albatross Thalassarche bulleri and the Vulnerable Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastria albatrus have been chosen as the featured species for 2024’s World Albatross Day celebrations. Both species appear in this year's poster by Geoffry Tyler, as does the EndangeredGrey-headed Albatross Thalassarche chrysostoma

The Albatross and Petrel Agreement is excited to present the poster for this year’s World Albatross Day under the theme, “Marine Protected Areas: Safeguarding our Oceans”. 

The WAD2024 poster was created by South African born Graphic Designer and long-time ACAP collaborator, Geoff Tyler, who also designed ACAP’s World Albatross Day logo, including this year’s commemorative logo marking the Agreement’s 20th year since coming into force.  

The ocean supports an abundance of life and ecosystems, and Geoff’s design beautifully captures the vital connection between albatrosses and the ocean whilst also highlighting the main threat to these incredible birds – fisheries. 

MPAs can assist in improving the conservation status of albatrosses by safeguarding their breeding habitats, critical areas along their migration routes, and by regulating activities like fishing within these protected zones.

Currently, MPAs can only be established by Governments within their own waters, however, with the landmark signature of the Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction or 'BBNJ treaty', by 84 nations, their creation in waters commonly known as the High Seas will also become possible. 

New Zealand’s Near Threatened Buller's Albatross Thalassarche bulleri and the Vulnerable Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastria albatrus have been chosen as the featured species for 2024’s World Albatross Day celebrations. Both species appear in this year's poster, as does the Endangered Grey-headed Albatross Thalassarche chrysostoma.

Please help spread the word about this year’s World Albatross Day and share our WAD2024 poster to amplify awareness and inspire action for the conservation of these impressive seabirds and the vast ocean they traverse.

The poster is available in the three official ACAP languages of English, French and Spanish, as well as in Japanese to mark the fact that the majority of the Short-tailed Albatrosses, one of the featured albatrosses for WAD2024, breeds on Japan’s Torishima.

The WAD2024 posters and logos can be freely downloaded at a high resolution to allow for printing at the ACAP website, here.  Please note they are only being made available for personal use or when engaging in activities that will aid in drawing attention to the conservation crisis faced by the world’s albatrosses and petrels – when ACAP will be pleased to receive a mention.

ACAP would like to thank, Michelle Risi, Enzo M. Reyes, Ross Wheeler, Michelle Jones and John Klavitter for the use of their photographs in this year’s WAD2024 poster. 

25 March 2024

Close to home: study reveals how Shy Albatrosses adapt their feeding habits amid environmental shifts

Albatross Island Shy Albatross Rachael AldermanA Shy Albatross on Australia's Albatross Island; photograph by Rachael Alderman

Claire Mason (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Australia) and colleagues have published open access in the journal Ecology and Evolution an analysis of the foraging behaviour of 96 shy albatrosses on Australia’s Albatross Island.

The open-access paper is part of a themed issue “How do marine heatwaves impact seabirds?” along with 12 other publications.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Quantifying the intra- and interindividual variation that exists within a population can provide meaningful insights into a population's vulnerability and response to rapid environmental change. We characterise the foraging behaviour of 308 trips taken by 96 shy albatross (Thalassarche cauta) from Albatross Island across seven consecutive years. At a population level, incubating shy albatross exploited a consistent area within ca. 500 km radius of their breeding colony. During half of the trips, individuals utilised the closest shelf break to the west of the colony, where upwelling events have been reported. The other half of the trips were exclusively within the neritic zone, utilising a variety of locations within the Bass Strait. Furthermore, we found evidence of individual consistency to geographic locations, with subsequent trips by an individual more similar than random trips from all individuals in our data, both within and between years (G-test, p < .05). Between-individual variation in foraging behaviour was not meaningfully explained by age (linear regression, p > .05) or sex (t-test, p > .05) for any metric, suggesting that other intrinsic individual factors are accounting for between-individual variation in foraging trips. A localised foraging distribution is unusual for albatross, which, combined with high variation in space use between individuals demonstrated here, suggests that this species is accessing adequate resources near the colony. Overall, these findings suggest that incubating shy albatross from Albatross Island exhibit tendencies of a generalist population comprised of uniquely specialised individuals. These results suggest that this species is operating below its biological capacity in this fast-warming area and provide a baseline from which to assess future change.”


Mason, C., Hobday, A. J., Lea, M.-A., &  Alderman, R. (2023).  Individual consistency in the localised foraging behaviour of shy albatross (Thalassarche cauta). Ecology and Evolution, 13, e10644.

22 March 2024

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.

About ACAP

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