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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The 7th International Albatross and Petrel Conference takes place next week in Mexico. You can read the abstracts now

 IAPC7The 7th International Albatross and Petrel Conference (IAPC7) will be held next week in the coastal city of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico over 20-26 May 2024.  An agenda and Abstracts of the plenaries and oral presentations are now available on the conference website, revealing a number of papers being offered on ACAP-listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters.  Titles and authors of 18 presentations to be made in a poster session during the evening of the 21st are also available on the IAPC7 website.

IAPC7 bogleMany members of the broader ACAP community are listed as senior or co-authors of oral and poster presentations, including Christine Bogle, ACAP’s Executive Secretary, who will present a plenary on the 23rd with the title “20 years of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels”.  Other ACAP authors of oral presentations include Mike Double (ACAP Advisory Committee Chair), Tatiana Neves (ACAP Advisory Committee Vice-chair), Marco Favero, Patrícia Pereira Serafini and Richard Phillips (convenors, ACAP Population and Conservation Status Working Group) and Igor Debski, Dimas Gianuca and Sebastián Jiménez (convenors, ACAP Seabird Bycatch Group).

IAPC7 workshop

Patrícia Serafini is also co-leading a workshop on the afternoon of the 23rd titled “Q&A Session and Wet Lab Training for working with Albatrosses and Petrels during the on-going High Pathogenicity H5N1 Avian Influenza Outbreak” (click here for its description).  The workshop is being supported by the ACAP Secondment Programme.  It is to be a hybrid model, with interested persons not attending the IAPC7 being able to follow the workshop virtually.  Read more about the workshop in ACAP Latest News.
IAPC7 posterIAPC7 attendees will hear about efforts to create Mexico’s first breeding population of Black-footed Albatrosses Phoebastria nigripes (click here for the abstract)

John Cooper, Emeritus Information Officer, Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, 14 May 2024

Wedge-tailed Shearwaters increase on now rat-free D’Arros Island in the Seychelles

Wedgie Danielle Keys
A Wedge-tailed Shearwater on D’Arros Island, photograph by Danielle Keys

Danielle Keys (Marine Apex Predator Research Unit, Nelson Mandela University, Gqeberha, South Africa) and colleagues have published in the open-access journal, Marine Ornithology on the increasing numbers of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters Ardenna pacifica on a Seychelles island following eradication of Norway Rats Rattus norvegicus.

15 352 Danielle van den Heever October2016 CKD
Danielle Keys burrow scopes a Wedgie burrow on on D’Arros Island, photograph by
Clare Keating

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Invasive mammalian predators have devastating effects on seabird nesting colonies.  A census was conducted on breeding Wedge-tailed Shearwaters Ardenna pacifica in 2016 and 2021 on D’Arros Island, Seychelles, which has been rat-free since 2003.   Results were compared with an earlier population estimate to assess population growth following the rat eradication. Compared to counts in 2009, we estimated a 10-fold increase in breeding population size, with 2768 (95% confidence interval (CI) 2424–3112) and 2406 (95% CI 2143–2667) breeding pairs in 2016 and 2021, respectively.  While the estimated increase is partly attributable to differences in the timing of the conducted census between the two studies, we also observed an increase in the areal extent of the population, from 3.00 to 3.85 ha (0.0300–0.0385 km2), and an increase in nesting density.  Cumulatively, this indicates a true population increase.

Wedgie burrows Danielle Keys
Wedge-tailed Shearwater burrow entrances on on D’Arros Island, photograph by Danielle Keys

Reference:

Keys, D.Z., Bullock, R.W., Keating, C. & Pistorius, P.A. 2024.  Rapid increase in size of Wedge-tailed Shearwater Ardenna pacifica colony following rat eradication.  Marine Ornithology 52: 149- 155.

13 May 2024

Six Short-tailed Albatross decoys are on their way back to Kure Atoll, but a real one has already shown up

2024 decoys 4
Big birdie!  Held by supporters, this freshly painted Short-tailed Albatross decoy (along with five more) is on its way back to Kure Atoll this month, photograph from the
Facebook page of Hawaiian artist, Patrick Ching

Hawaiian artist, Patrick Ching who added the paint, writes “These life-sized decoys will help bring the live ones down to earth at Hōlanikū (Kure Atoll)”.  They were due to be shipped out on 8 May along with the summer field team who will install them in a central location on the atoll’s Green Island.  Watch a shore video of the artist adding the final touch here.

2024 decoys 7 Patrick Ching
Ready for repainting: six Short-tailed Albatross decoys await the artist,
photograph from the Facebook page of Hawaiian artist, Patrick Ching

This will not be the first time Short-tailed Albatross decoys have been deployed on Kure Atoll, the same six being reported as “recently installed” around the time of the 2014/15 breeding season.  They had faded exposed to all weathers and so had been returned to be repainted.

2024 visitor Sarah Donahue 1
Kure Atoll’s latest arrival, No. 750, photograph by Sarah Donahue

Meanwhile, a Short-tailed Albatross “with phase 4 plumage” was photographed on Kure Atoll late last month (click here).  The bird carried both a metal and a white numbered plastic band (No. 750), which identified it as having come from Japan’s Torishima, the main home of the species.

Short tailed Kure 2013 s
The female-female Short-tailed Albatross pair on Kure Atoll in 2013, photograph by Cynthia Vanderlip

Starting in 2010 to at least 2018 a female-female Short-tailed Albatross pair laid two infertile eggs each season on Kure Atoll (click here).  One was metal banded with 13A-1456 as a chick on Torishima in 2000 (and was photographed on Kure in intermediate plumage in 2015).  The other in adult plumage was banded as a chick with 13A-0703 in 1993, also on Torishima.  Both birds were banded by Short-tailed Albatross doyen Hiroshi Hasegawa.  It is uncertain whether either bird has been back on on Kure since 2018, but their usual breeding site is not often visited, so they could have been missed if only making short visits..  From time to time single Short-tailed Albatrosses have been reported from Kure (click here).

With thanks to Cynthia Vanderlip for information.

John Cooper, Emeritus Information Officer, Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, 10 May 2024

Saving albatrosses on a sub-Antarctic Island: a radio interview with Dr Anton Wolfaardt, Mouse-Free Marion Project Manager

Anton Wolfaardt on Gough

 Dr Anton Wolfaardt, Project Manager, Mouse-Free Marion Project, with a Critically Endangered Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena chick on Gough Island

Dr Anton Wolfaardt manages the Mouse-Free Marion Project that aims to eradicate the albatross-killing House Mice Mus musculus on South Africa’s sub-Antarctic Marion Island.  He was recently interviewed by Ben Goldsmith in his Rewilding the World series, starting by saying “All of us involved in the project are driven by the opportunity to make a real difference for this special part of the planet.”

Dead Wanderer Marion April 2023 Michelle Risi 1 shrunk A Vulnerable Wandering Albatross D. exulans killed by mice on Marion Island, April 2023, photograph by Michelle Risi

A summary of Anton’s 33-minute interview follows:

“Eradicating giant mice from South Africa's Marion Island, a vital haven for seabirds.  The vast, wild Southern Ocean is home to albatrosses, petrels and other remarkable seabirds which wander for years on end in search of food.

Only to breed do the seabirds of the Southern Ocean need land, of which there are just a handful of tiny specs [sic].  One of these is South Africa's distant Marion Island, which has become overrun by invasive mice, introduced inadvertently by sailors at least two centuries ago.  The mice eat the eggs, young and even the adult seabirds.

Now Anton Wolfaardt of BirdLife South Africa and his team have a wild plan to eradicate the mice, with the hope that it will allow seabirds to surge back to their historic abundance.”

023 BenDilley Marion2015 BEN 2718e
The culprit.  A House Mouse on Marion Island, photograph by Ben Dilley

Anton will be well known to the ACAP community, having been a Convenor of its Seabird Bycatch Working Group (SBWG) from 2013 to 2020 (click here).

Anton Wolfaardt ACAP MFM certificateAnton Wolfaardt holds his Mouse-Free Marion Sponsor a Hectare certificate received in appreciation of his leadership of the ACAP Seabird Bycatch Working Group

John Cooper, Emeritus Information Officer, Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, 09 May 2024

THE ACAP MONTHLY MISSIVE. An appreciation: Kitty Harvill and Artists & Biologists Unite for Nature

Kitty Harvill.1
Making a connection.  ABUN Co-founder Kitty Harvill, who illustrated
Wisdom the Midway Albatross

Back in 2012, I had reviewed for ACAP Latest News (by a then nine-year-old) a new book for children about Wisdom, the now 70-something Laysan Albatross Phoebastria immutabilis of the USA’s Midway Atoll.  Wisdom is reckoned to be the world’s oldest known wild bird, first banded as an adult in 1956 by Chandler Robbins, and still going strong, seen displaying for a new mate this year.  Previously, I had got in touch with the book’s illustrator, Kitty Harvill, to request use of her paintings in the review.  This was to lead, although I did know this at the time, to a rather remarkable collaboration, and a valued online friendship, that has greatly added to fostering awareness of World Albatross Day, held each year since its inauguration by ACAP in 2020.

ABUN 30
ACAP’s first collaboration with ABUN was in 2020 for the inaugural World Albatross Day, banner by Kitty Harvill

In 2020, Kitty was living primarily in Brazil and had entered in discussions with the Brazilian environmental NGO, Projeto Albatroz, about collaborating with the organization, Artists & Biologists Unite for Nature (ABUN) which she had co-founded with her husband, Christoph Hrdina, in 2016, to produce artworks to aid in the conservation of albatrosses.  Through its connections with the NGO (and because of my previous correspondence with Kitty), the Albatross and Petrel Agreement became involved in the discussion, and I saw an opportunity to help increase awareness of the inaugural World Albatross Day on 19 June 2020.  This led to ABUN artists producing artworks for ACAP’s use to mark World Albatross Day that year and its theme of “Eradicating Island Pests”.  With Kitty’s abiding encouragement and enthusiasm, Project #30 resulted in no less than 324 artworks from 77 artists, depicting all 22 species of the world’s albatrosses,  Several artists produced multiple works and more than one painted every species, including Lea Finke, whose Campbell Albatross Thalassarche impavida is shown here.  The project ended with Kitty producing with musician John Nicolosi, a music video, entitled “Flight of the Albatross”.  ABUN artist Marion Schön produced a collage poster that featured works by all  the 77 contributing artists and illustrated all 22 species of albatrosses.  ACAP’s first collaboration with ABUN was an undoubted success and I was delighted.  The artworks produced are still being drawn upon to illustrate articles for ACAP Latest News.

Campbell Albatross Kirk Zufelt Lea Finke
Campbell Albatross by ABUN artist, Lea Finke for World Albatross Day, 19 June 2020, after a photograph by Kirk Zufelt

Since 2020, ACAP has gone on to collaborate each year with ABUN in support of World Albatross Day.  Projects #35, #39 and #43 over 2021-2023 continued to produce many often intriguing artworks depicting albatrosses and (in 2021) the nine ACAP listed petrels and shearwaters.  This year’s ABUN Project #47, that came to an end in April, set the rather tricky challenge of illustrating the ‘WAD2024” theme of “Marine Protected Areas – Safeguarding our Oceans”.  Although the numbers of contributing artists, and their artworks have shrunk over the five years following the novelty of painting albatrosses back in 2020, it is fair to say the quality has been maintained, if not even increased, as regular contributors have honed their skills in painting and drawing one of the most iconic groups of seabirds.  For each of the first four years, Kitty continued to produce collages and put together music videos.

Kitty Harvill The Guardians 11 x 14 ins acrylic on canvas 5 Albatrosses hidden in the sky and rockscan you find them all
“The Guardians” by Kitty Harvill for World Albatross Day, 19 June 2024, after a photograph of the Western Chain, Snares Islands by Paul Sagar.  The artist writes “five albatrosses are hidden in the sky and rocks.  Can you find them all?”. 11 x 14 inches, acrylic on canvas

A few years ago, Kitty wrote to me saying “I fell in love with Wisdom, the [then] 68-year-old Midway Laysan Albatross, while creating illustrations for the book by the same name.  She’s well named and has much to teach us as conservationists and activists battling for the survival of our planet - patience, perseverance and setting an example by making waves that will carry forward, further than we might ever have dreamed.”  And this is exactly what Kitty has achieved with 46 collaborative ABUN projects over nine years, five of them with ACAP.  As my cycling friends might say “Chapeau”!

After four years of leading with World Albatross Day, I have taken a step back and this year’s World Albatross Day is being capably led by my colleague, ACAP’s Communications Advisor, Bree Forrer.  Another milestone is that Kitty has also taken a back seat, relinquishing leading ABUN collaborative projects to fellow ABUN artist, Marion Schön.  I am sure Bree and Marion, who are already working together, will be able to encourage the production of great artworks for ACAP, including from Kitty, if collaborations continue into future years, as I would hope they do.

Lost in a Rising Sea Black footed Albatross by Kitty Harvill after a photograph by Koa Matsuoka shrunk
“Lost in a Rising Sea” watercolour by Kitty Harvill in support of
WAD2022 and its theme of Climate Change; after a photograph of a Black-footed Albatross P. nigripes by Koa Matsuoka, poster design by Michelle Risi

I have been involved with the Albatross and Petrel Agreement for 25 years, first participating in some of the early negotiation meetings and discussions that led to the Agreement, then successively as a delegate, Vice Chair of its Advisory Committee, segueing into the position of voluntary Information Officer within the Secretariat, and now “semi-retired’ as Emeritus Information Officer.  I can say that my involvement with ABUN and its many artists has been one of the highlights of my time with ACAP.  Kitty Harvill has been central to this.  I hope we will continue to stay in touch!

Reference:

Pattison, D. & Harvill, K. 2012.  Wisdom: the Midway Albatross: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and other Disasters for over 60 Years.  Little Rock: Mims House.  32 pp,

John Cooper, Emeritus Information Officer, Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, 07 May 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

ACAP Secretariat

119 Macquarie St
Hobart TAS 7000
Australia

Email: secretariat@acap.aq
Tel: +61 3 6165 6674