Shy or White-capped Albatross: which one occurs in South American waters?

Manuel Marin writing last year in the New Zealand journal Notornis has looked at the occurrence of Shy Albatrosses Thalassarche cauta (sensu lato) off South America in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans based on his at-sea observations over the last few years.

His short note concludes that the Shy Albatross "seems to rarely occur off either coast of South America, contrary to previous assumptions and when it does occur it is not every year and probably only in small numbers."

However, the author does not attempt to distinguish between the Shy Albatross of Australia and the closely-related White-capped Albatross T. steadi of New Zealand in his observations and photographs.  So the next challenge will be to see which of the two taxa (or both) occurs off South America, although an earlier paper by Sebastián Jiménez and colleagues in the Australian journal Emu Austral Ornithology reports three White-capped Albatrosses in Uruguayan waters based on molecular analysis, along with "shy-type" sightings.

Shy Albatross.  Photograph by Aleks Terauds


Jimenez, S., Domingo, A., Marquez, A., Abreu, M., D'Anatro, A. & Pereira, A. 2009.  Interactions of long-line fishing with seabirds in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean, with focus on white-capped albatrosses (Thalassarche steadi).  Emu 109: 321-326.

Marin, M. 2011.  Distributional notes on the shy albatross (Thalassarche cauta): its presence off South America in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans.  Notornis 58: 101-103.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 8 January 2012

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