Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

A Southern Giant Petrel scavenges on a Northern Rockhopper Penguin at sea far from land

A Southern Giant Petrel Macronectes giganteus identified as coming from the Low Hump demographic study colony on Gough Island by the presence of a yellow engraved band on its left leg was photographed landing next to and then attempting to tear open and feed from a Northern Rockhopper Penguin Eudyptes moseleyi carcass (identified by its long head plumes) floating on the sea surface.  The observation was made at 36° 28’S, 05° 51’W in reasonably calm conditions in the South Atlantic from the S.A. Agulhas II on its return passage to Cape Town from Gough and Tristan da Cunha on 5 October, some 550 kilometres away from the bird’s breeding locality.


Unfortunately, the colour band’s alphanumeric code could not be read due to it being photographed under water.  Individual identification would have allowed assignment of gender and breeding status, as was done earlier for three female colour-banded Southern Giant Petrel seen off Tristan da Cunha in September and early October – all of which were incubating their eggs on Gough 380 km away as little as five days before (click here).

With thanks to Peter Ryan for the photograph.

Research on ACAP-listed species on the outer islands of Tristan da Cunha is funded by the UK's Overseas Territories Environment Programme and the Darwin Initiative Programme via the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and by the FitzPatrick Institute, University of Cape Town.  It is conducted with the support and approval of the Tristan Conservation Department and the logistic support of the South African Department of Environmental Affairs.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 11 October 2013