Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

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Read about recent developments and findings in procellariiform science and conservation relevant to the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels in ACAP Latest News.

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Where do Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses from Prince Edward Island go to at sea?

Azwianewi Makhado (Department of Environmental Affairs, Oceans and Coasts Branch, Cape Town, South Africa) and colleagues have published in the journal Emu – Austral Ornithology on the at-sea movements of globally Endangered Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses Thalassarche carteri breeding on Prince Edward Island.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Demographic parameters of wild animals are often closely associated with their foraging distribution and behaviour, and understanding these attributes can assist in identifying causes of population changes. The Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche carteri) is endangered but little information is available on its at-sea distribution and behaviour. It breeds only in French (Iles Amsterdam, St Paul, Kerguelen and Crozet) and South African (Prince Edward Island, PEI) territories in the south-west Indian Ocean, with PEI supporting about 20% of the global population. This study aimed to investigate the at-sea distributions of adult Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses provisioning chicks at PEI and to compare them with distributions of Yellow-nosed Albatrosses breeding at other localities. Using satellite transmitters, we identified two areas that were particularly favoured for foraging. Parents whose partners were brooding small chicks frequently moved north-east of PEI to shallow, productive waters where cold, nutrient-rich water upwells and results in enhanced levels of chlorophyll-a. By contrast, parents with older chicks that could be left unattended often foraged along the Agulhas Bank where eddies and shear forces promote vertical mixing. The at-sea distribution of birds breeding at PEI was located between those reported for Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses breeding at Ile Amsterdam and Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatrosses (T. chlororhynchos) breeding at Gough Island, so that birds from these localities may face different threats at sea. Our study is the first to highlight key feeding areas for Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses from PEI and to demonstrate partitioning of foraging grounds by Yellow-nosed Albatrosses from different localities.”

An Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross broods its chick on Prince Edward Island, photograph by Peter Ryan


Makhado, A.B., Crawford, R.J.M., Dias, M.P., Dyer, B.M., Lamont, T., Pistorius, P., Ryan, P.G., Upfold, L., Weimerskirch, H. & Reisinger, R.R. 2018.  Foraging behaviour and habitat use by Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses (Thalassarche carteri breeding at Prince Edward Island.  Emu - Austral Ornithology 118: 353-362.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 19 April 2019

Ultrafine plastic particles found in Flesh-footed Shearwaters

Jennifer Lavers (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Australia) and colleagues have published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin on assessing plastic loads in Flesh-footed Shearwaters Ardenna carneipes made up of particles under one millimetre in size.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Plastic debris is a major global threat to marine ecosystems and species. However, our knowledge of this issue may be incomplete due to a lack of a standardized method for quantifying ingested ultrafine particles (1 μm – 1 mm) in wildlife. This study provides the first quantification of ultrafine plastic in seabirds using chemical and biological digestion treatments to extract plastic items from seabird gizzards. The alkaline agent, potassium hydroxide, outperformed the enzyme corolase, based on cost and efficiency (e.g., digestion time). Ultrafine plastics were observed in 7.0% of Flesh-footed Shearwater (Ardenna carneipes) gizzards collected from Lord Howe Island, Australia and accounted for 3.6% of all plastic items recovered (13 out of 359 items). Existing methods for extracting ingested plastic from seabirds do not account for ultrafine particles, therefore our results indicate current seabird plastic loads, and the associated physical and biological impacts, are underestimated.”

Removing plastic from a Flesh-footed Shearwater, photograph by Ian Hutton


Lavers, J.L., Stivaktakis, G., Hutton, I. & Bond, A.L. 2019.  Detection of ultrafine plastics ingested by seabirds using tissue digestion.  Marine Pollution Bulletin 142: 470-474.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 18 April 2018

University interns help the ACAP Secretariat with translations for another year

ACAP’s three official working languages are English, French and Spanish.  Since 2013 the ACAP Secretariat has offered an internship programme for translation students studying at Australian universities in February of each year. The students have the opportunity to gain practical experience to improve their translation skills, as well as to acquire a better understanding of the contexts in which they are likely to use these skills during their professional careers.  At the same time, it is a great opportunity for ACAP to contribute to the education of translators, and in the process prepare them for the future.

As in previous years, the 2019 cohort of language interns came from the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University, Melbourne (Olivier Lallemand  and Eduardo Veliz Ojeda) and the School of Humanities and Languages, University of New South Wales, Sydney (Laurence Laveau and Kalen McCahon). They spent a working week with the Secretariat in its Hobart office in Tasmania between 11 and 15 February.  Translations were made from the Spanish into English of reports received from South American holders of ACAP secondments, as well as selected English texts into French and Spanish.


Eduardo, Christine Bogle, ACAP Executive Secretary, Kalen, Olivier and Laurence

See ALN reports on the 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2018 cohorts of translation students from Monash and New South Wales Universities who have worked in the ACAP Secretariat.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 17 April 2019

Macquarie Island’s Northern Giant Petrels expected to recover after poison bait drop by 2017

Rachael Alderman (Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia) and colleagues have published in the journal Ecological Modelling showing that Macquarie Island’s Northern Giant Petrels Macronectes halli (globally Least Concern, but considered nationally Vulnerable in Australia) should recover to their pre‐poisoning level by 2017 after being knocked back by the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project (MIPEP).

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Pest eradication conducted over the years 2010 to 2014 at Macquarie Island successfully eradicated introduced rabbits, rats and mice from this sub-Antarctic island. The initial aerial baiting phase in the winters of 2010 and 2011 resulted in significant mortality of several native seabird species through primary and secondary ingestion of brodifacoum bait. A species of key concern is the northern giant petrel (Macronectes halli), which, although relatively abundant and increasing on Macquarie Island, is listed as threatened under Australian legislation and was one of the species most affected by poisoning. We use a Bayesian approach to estimate the total mortality and the response of the population to the poisoning event over the short- to medium-term. We then considered how population abundance might respond over the ensuing years. Projections of population trajectories suggest a greater than 50% probability of recovery to the pre‐poisoning levels of 2009 breeding pairs by 2017. This modelling approach could be applied to future planned eradications to quantify the mortality and recovery of incidentally affected populations.”

Northern Giant Petrel, photograph by Marienne de Villiers


Alderman, R., Tuck, G.N., Castillo-Jordán, C., Haddon, M., Punt, A.E. 2019.  Macquarie Island’s northern giant petrels and the impacts of pest eradication on population abundance.  Ecological Modelling 393: 66-75.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 16 April 2019

France’s sub-Antarctic islands will be considered for World Heritage status in July this year

Terres australes antarctiques françaises (TAAF) submitted its nomination for the inscription of France’s sub-Antarctic islands (Amsterdam, Crozets, Kerguelen and Saint-Paul) on the List of Natural Sites of UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention (WHC) in February last year.  The submission will be evaluated at the 43rd Session of the World Heritage Committee in Baku, Azerbaijan from 30 June to 10 July this year.


Saint-Paul: French territory in the southern Indian Ocean

A 25-page illustrated booklet “French Southern Lands and Seas, candidate 2019 for the inscription on UNESCO’s World Heritage Listis now available in an English version translated from the original French text, as is a two-page brochure illustrating and summarising France’s nomination (click here for both language versions).

The French islands were first listed on the convention’s Tentative List in September 2016 (click here for the French text for the La Réserve naturelle nationale des Terres Australes Françaises).

If the French nomination is successful it will add the Endangered Amsterdam Albatross Diomedea amsterdamensis and Endangered Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross Thalassarche carteri to the list of ACAP species that breed within World Heritage sites.  It will also leave only South Africa’s Prince Edward Islands without World Heritage status in the southern Indian Ocean.  Following the withdrawal of its nomination of the Prince Edwards following unfavourable evaluation by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), South Africa then removed its sub-Antarctic islands from its Tentative List.

Read earlier postings in ACAP Latest News on France’s nomination of its sub-Antarctic islands.

Click here for a global list of World Heritage sites that support ACAP-listed species.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 15 April 2019

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