Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Obituary: Michael John Imber, New Zealand procellariiform seabird researcher

It is with sadness that the Albatross and Petrel Agreement reports the passing of Michael John Imber, DSc of Levin, New Zealand on 28 April 2011 at the age of 70 years.

Mike Imber had spent a career working with procellariiform seabirds and has published early studies on the (especially cephalopod) diets of albatrosses and petrels, using the then innovative technique of identifying prey to genus and species from the shape and size of regurgitated squid beaks.

In 1979 Mike Imber visited the Prince Edward Islands, where I have written this obituary, as a guest of the South African National Antarctic Programme.  He used his skills to confirm for the first time breeding by the Black-bellied Storm Petrel Fregetta tropica on Prince Edward, the less-visited island of the group.  He also visited Gough Island in the South Atlantic with SANAP the same year, looking at the island's suite of burrowing petrels and collecting regurgitated squid beaks from around Tristan Albatrosses Diomedea dabbenena nests.

Mike also visited South Africa to attend the Symposium on Birds of the Sea and Shore, arranged by the African Seabird Group and held in Cape Town in 1979.  This is when I first met him, subsequently meeting up again at the inaugural meeting of CCAMLR's then Ad Hoc Working Group on Incidental. Mortality Arising from Longline Fishing (WG-IMALF) held in Hobart, Australia in 1994.  Following a sabbatical visit to New Zealand that same year I stayed with Mike at his home for a weekend and I still have a piece of polished drift wood picked up then as a souvenir of our windy beach walk together for washed-up seabirds.

ACAP's sympathy is extended to Mike's family and his colleagues and friends around the World.

Selected bibliography: Michael John Imber

Berruti, A., Griffiths, A.M., Imber, M.J., Schramm, M. & Sinclair, J.C. 1981.  The status of seabirds at Prince Edward Island.  South African Journal of Antarctic Research 10/11: 31-32.

Imber, M.J. 1976.  Comparison of prey of the black Procellaria petrels of New Zealand  New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 10: 119-130.

Imber, M.J. 1983.  The lesser petrels of Antipodes Islands, with notes from Prince Edward and Gough Islands.  Notornis 30: 283-298.

Imber, M.J. 1987.  Breeding ecology and conservation of the Black Petrel (Procellaria parkinsoni).  Notornis 34: 19-39.

Imber, M.J. 1991.  Feeding ecology of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic Procellariiformes.  Acta XX Congressus Internationalis Ornithologici.  pp. 1402-1412.

Imber, M.J. 1992.  Cephalopods eaten by Wandering Albatrosses (Diomedea exulans L.) breeding at six circumpolar localities.  Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 22: 243-263.

Imber, M.J. 1999. Diet and feeding ecology of the Royal Albatross Diomedea epomophora king of the shelf break and inner slope. Emu 99: 200-211.

Imber, M.J. & Berruti, A. 1981.  Procellariiform seabirds as squid predators.  In: Cooper, J. (Ed.).  Proceedings of the Symposium on Birds of the Sea and Shore, 1979.  Cape Town: African Seabird Group.  pp. 43-61.

Imber, M. J. & Russ, R. 1975.  Some foods of the. Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans.  Notornis 22: 27-36.

Imber, M.J., McFadden, I., Bell, E.A. & Scofield, R.P. 2003.  Post-fledging migration, age of first return and recruitment, and results of inter-colony translocation of Black Petrels (Procellaria parkinsoni).  Notornis 50: 183-190.

West, J.A. & Imber, M.J. 1986.  Some foods of Buller's Mollymawk Diomedea bulleri. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 13: 169-174.

Williams, A.J. & Imber, M.J. 1982.  Ornithological observations at Gough Island in 1979, 1980 and 1981.  South African Journal of Antarctic Research 12: 40-45.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 5 May 2011