Tracking Sooty Albatrosses at sea from Gough, Tristan and Marion Islands

Stefan Schoombie (FitzPatrick Institute, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa) and colleagues have published in the journal Emu - Austral Ornithology on tracking Endangered Sooty Albatrosses Phoebetria fusca at sea.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Sooty Albatrosses (Phoebetria fusca; Endangered) breed only on sub-Antarctic islands in the South Atlantic and south-west Indian Oceans, with most of the population at Gough Island (≈37%), the Prince Edward Islands (≈24%) and the Tristan da Cunha archipelago (≈20%). Breeding Sooty Albatrosses from all three of these populations were tracked during the incubation and brood-guard periods. Birds from Marion Island (Prince Edwards) ranged farther north, despite being the most southerly of the three study sites. Tristan-Gough Sooty Albatrosses concentrated mostly around the Sub-Antarctic Front (SAF) in the southern Atlantic Ocean, whereas Marion birds were associated with both the SAF and the Sub-Tropical Front (STF) in the southern Indian Ocean. Our tracking data describe where 80% of breeding Sooty Albatrosses forage during the incubation and brood-guard period, including the first records of birds from Marion and Tristan. Such data are important to identify key areas where these threatened birds need protection from mortality on long-line fishing gear. Overlap with the distribution of tuna long-line effort was greater for Sooty Albatrosses from Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island than for Marion birds, suggesting that birds breeding at Atlantic colonies might be at greater risk of bycatch mortality in this fishery.”

 

Sooty Albatross by Andrea Angel and Ross Wanless

Reference:

Schoombie, S., Dilley, B.J., Davies, D., Glass, T. & Ryan, P.G. 2017.  The distribution of breeding Sooty Albatrosses from the three most important breeding sites: Gough, Tristan and the Prince Edward Islands.  Emu - Austral Ornithology doi/full/10.1080/01584197.2017.1289804.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 22 February 2017