The Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena is endemic to the Tristan da Cunha Group in the South Atlantic, with nearly its whole population now occurring on Gough Island (click here for an earlier news item on the bird's serious conservation plight). The bird no longer breeds on the main island of Tristan, but a tiny relict population has survived at Inaccessible Island in the group for the last three quarters of a century or so. However, the last survey at the right time of the year was made back in 2000, when a single incubating pair was present. The highest number of incubating pairs recorded since 1937 has been three, with complete absences of breeding attempts in some years, not unexpected with such low numbers as the species is a biennial breeder when successful.
The newly-established Tristan Conservation Department (TCD) now has a rigid inflatable boat donated by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, the Arctic Tern, allowing a survey party to be landed safely on the island. Over the period 27 February to 3 March Norman Glass and Brad Robson of the TCD (the latter on secondment from the UK's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) thoroughly explored Inaccessible’s uplands, where the albatrosses are known to breed.
Although no breeding birds were found, during their visit an adult male landed near an old nest site and commenced displaying and a second bird was seen flying overhead for some time without landing. So it seems the Tristan Albatross may still be keeping a tenuous toe-hold on Inaccessible. A further island visit in summer 2009/2010 is planned to confirm this.
Click here to find the ACAP Species Assessment for the Tristan Albatross.
Information from Brad Robson and Norman Glass, posted by John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 7 April 2009, updated 16 May 2009