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Recovering Grey Petrel population at Macca gets tracked at sea

The Australian Antarctic Division has reported on research being conducted on the Near Threatened and ACAP-listed Grey Petrel Procellaria cinerea on Macquarie Island, following the successful eradication of the island’s alien mammals (click here).  The island supports a small population of at least 94 breeding pairs.

An incubating Grey Petrel, photograph by Peter Ryan

The AAD’s (slightly edited) report follows:

Scientists on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island have used satellite tags to track the foraging behaviour of a threatened seabird, the Grey Petrel, for the first time.  Parks Wildlife Ranger, Marcus Salton, said researchers have been studying the birds on the island for the past 16 years but until now knew nothing about their at-sea foraging behaviour and habitat use.

“Over winter for the first time we attached small satellite transmitters to 10 adult Grey Petrels to track their movements over more than 100 days.  The results were astounding, showing the birds foraged over a very broad area.  Some flew as far as 3000 km east of Macquarie Island past New Zealand, while other birds foraged several thousand kilometres north-west near to Australia.”

“The tags also show the birds regularly return to their burrows on the island during the breeding season,” Mr Salton said.  “This at-sea foraging data will help identify key feeding grounds for Grey Petrels during their breeding season.

“With this information, we can better manage fisheries interactions with the birds and explore the potential impacts of changing ocean conditions on the health of [Macquarie’s] Grey Petrel population.”

For a similar report click here and here for some photos.

Read more about Macca’s Grey Petrels here.

With thanks to Keith Springer.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 06 December 2016