Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

South African expedition sails south this week to undertake research on ACAP-listed albatrosses and petrels at sub-Antarctic Marion Island

The S.A. Agulhas, South Africa's Antarctic research and supply ship, sailed from Cape Town for Marion Island in the southern Indian Ocean on Tuesday this week to undertake the annual relief of the newly opened new meteorological/research base at Transvaal Cove.

Among the many research groups aboard is one led by Peter Ryan of the University of Cape Town's Percy FitzPatrick Institute.  Working in conjunction with personnel from the South African Government's Department of Environmental Affairs, a team of six will undertake research on a number of seabird species during the three weeks the ship is at the island, as summarized below for ACAP-listed albatrosses and petrels:

Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans:  Blood samples will be collected from chicks in study colonies for sexing and paternity analyses,

Sooty albatrosses Phoebetria spp.:  deploy PTTs (satellite transmitters),

Giant petrels Macronectes spp.:  deploy PTTs (satellite transmitters), and

Grey Petrel Procellaria cinerea:  retrieve and redeploy GPS loggers from incubating birds.

In addition new field assistants who will be spending a year on the island will be introduced to the ornithological programme, which includes total "round-island" counts of all the surface-nesting albatross and giant petrel species, as well as continued monitoring in long-term demographic study colonies of colour-banded Wandering and Grey-headed Thalassarche chrysostoma Albatrosses and of Northern Giant Petrels M. halli.

As in the last two years I am accompanying the relief, continuing with archaeological and historical research, which this year will include investigation of a sunken sealing vessel from the early 20th Century.  Visitors to this web site should thus expect intermittent breaks in the posting of daily news items while I travel south and while I'm in field huts away from the research station (and Internet) on the island.  Good to get a break sometimes!

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 7 April 2011