Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

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University interns help the ACAP Secretariat with translations for yet another year; this time in support of World Albatross Day

2020 Interns 1

From left: Jade Peyro, Candelaria Brun, Christine Bogle, ACAP Executive Secretary, Ana Cabaleiro and Juliette Ruytoor in the ACAP offices in Hobart

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 Master’s students gain practical experience to improve their translation skills, as well as acquiring a better understanding of the contexts in which they are likely to use these skills during their professional careers.

As in previous years, the 2020 cohort of language students came from the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University, Melbourne (Jade Peyro – French and Juliette Ruytoor – French and the School of Humanities and Languages, University of New South Wales, Sydney (Ana Cabaleiro Barciela – French and Candelaria Brun – Spanish)

The four interns spent a working week with the Secretariat in its Hobart office in Tasmania over 3-7 February.  This time they mainly worked on translating one-page summary texts being written for each of the 22 ACAP-listed albatrosses by ACAP’s Information Officer.  Once completed the summaries will be illustrated and placed in a new section on this website especially for World Albatross Day, which will be inaugurated on 19 June this year.  The summaries are aimed at school children and their teachers (but also at the general public) who may be looking for some basic albatross facts to help them with whatever they may decide to do (or make) to mark the day.

With the help of Projeto Albatroz, a Brazilian NGO that has worked with ACAP for many years, it is intended to have the summaries translated into Portuguese.  Although Portuguese is not an official ACAP language it is considered worthwhile for ACAP to attempt to communicate in this language when it can, noting of course that Brazil is a long-standing Party to ACAP.  Additionally, the ACAP-listed and Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus is a victim of fisheries in Portugal's territorial/EEZ waters and the Endangered Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross Thalassarche chlororhynchos enters the Benguela Current off the southern part of Portuguese-speaking Angola where it is at risk.

The interns also provided translations of ACAP internal reports from meetings attended in 2019 and updates to ACAP’s eradication guidelines.  ACAP thanks them all!

Read up on previous years’ interns here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 18 February 2020

The Friends of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge gives its views on World Albatross Day 2020


The Friends of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (FOMA) is a non-profit organization that works to help preserve, protect and restore the biological diversity and historic resources of Midway Atoll, while providing opportunity for wildlife-dependent recreation, education, cultural experiences and scientific research. The NGO is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors that works to support the Refuge.  A 2015 Strategic Plan helps guide FOMA’s activities, which are reported on via Facebook and the Gooney Gazette II newsletter.

Wayne SentmanACAP Latest News has been in touch with FOMA about this year’s inaugural World Albatross Day with its theme of “Eradicating Island Pests”.  Wayne Sentman, FOMA President, has written back: “Founded in 1999 the Friends of Midway Atoll has been supporting the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge’s albatross conservation and seabird habitat restoration efforts over the last 20 years.  During that time many field volunteer hours have been supported, and with nearly US$750 000 raised we have been able to aid a variety of research and conservation measures aimed at promoting the annual success of the three species of albatrosses (and other seabirds) that breed on the atoll.  The 2020 World Albatross Day theme of “Eradicating Island Pests”, could not be better timed, as Midway is in the midst of initiating a large scale, multi-million-dollar effort to rid the refuge of the introduced House Mice Mus musculus.  Rats were eliminated in 1997 with great benefits for the island’s birds; in 2021 we hope to be sharing similar news about the elimination of mice, removing yet one more obstacle to the annual breeding success of the albatrosses of Midway Atoll.”

Wayne Sentman holds a Short-tailed Albatross decoy on Midway Atoll








 Wieteke Holzjhausen shrunkWieteke Holthuijzen, FOMA Board Director and an MSc student studying Midway’s House Mice that have taken to attacking the island’s albatrosses also writes in response to ALN:  “For over 20 years, FOMA has supported restoration and conservation efforts on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge - the world's largest albatross colony - and we are proud to celebrate World Albatross Day to increase visibility of the work being done all around the world to protect albatrosses and petrels.  Moreover, given this year's theme of eradicating invasive species on islands, FOMA is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to eradicate invasive House Mice on Midway Atoll NWR in July 2020 via fundraising and purchasing needed equipment and supplies.  Rodent eradications are proven conservation tools and we are thrilled to help restore safe, breeding habitat for Midway Atoll NWR's albatrosses--for generations to come.”

Wieteke Holthuizen bands a Laysan Albatross in Midway Atoll

 Read about FOMA supporting the annual albatross count on Midway here and how some of the volunteer counters marked the coming World Albatross Day while in the field among the albatrosses here.

ACAP Latest News looks forward to reporting on the Midway mouse eradication later this year – and hearing how Friends of Midway Atoll NWR contributed to it.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 20 February 2020

Breeding quality differences in Streaked Shearwaters

Streaked Shearwater on rock 

Annette Fayet (Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK) and colleagues have published in the journal Ornithological Science on aspects of the breeding biology of the Streaked Shearwater Calonectris leucomelas.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“To identify drivers of local variation in breeding success in colonial seabirds, we studied the role of breeding phenology and parental quality on the breeding performance of two neighbouring subcolonies of Streaked Shearwaters Calonectris leucomelas, with similar habitat but different success.  Egg dimension and parental quality during incubation, but not phenology, predicted hatching success.  Birds at the low-success colony laid smaller eggs, reared smaller chicks and neglected eggs more frequently, leaving them vulnerable to predation.  Our findings suggest that local variation in breeding performance in this species arises from differences in breeding quality, perhaps driven by age or experience.”


Fayet, A.L., Shirai, M., Matsumoto, S., Van Tatenhove, A., Yoda, K. & Shoji, A. 2019.  Differences in breeding success between neighbouring Streaked Shearwater subcolonies correlate with egg size and quality of parental care.  Ornithological Science 218: 189-195.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 15 February 2020

“We are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven”. Effects of age on foraging behaviour of Black-browed and Grey-headed Albatrosses in the South Atlantic

Black browed Albatross Dimas Gianuca Marion Schon
 "The Golden Hour" (pastel on pastel mat, 12" x 16") by Marion Schön for ABUN, from a photograph of a Black-browed Albatross and chick by Dimas Gianuca

Caitlin Frankish (British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK) and colleagues have published open access in the journal Movement Ecology on senescence in two mollymawk albatrosses.

“Background.  Foraging performance is widely hypothesized to play a key role in shaping age-specific demographic rates in wild populations, yet the underlying behavioral changes are poorly understood.  Seabirds are among the longest-lived vertebrates, and demonstrate extensive age-related variation in survival, breeding frequency and success.  The breeding season is a particularly critical phase during the annual cycle, but it remains unclear whether differences in experience or physiological condition related to age interact with the changing degree of the central-place constraint in shaping foraging patterns in time and space.

Methods.  Here we analyze tracking data collected over two decades from congeneric black-browed (BBA) and grey-headed (GHA) albatrosses, Thalassarche melanophris and T. chrysostoma, breeding at South Georgia.  We compare the foraging trip parameters, at-sea activity (flights and landings) and habitat preferences of individuals aged 10–45 years and contrast these patterns between the incubation and early chick-rearing stages.

Results.  Young breeders of both species showed improvements in foraging competency with age, reducing foraging trip duration until age 26.  Thereafter, there were signs of foraging senescence; older adults took gradually longer trips, narrowed their habitat preference (foraging within a smaller range of sea surface temperatures) (GHA), made fewer landings and rested on the water for longer (BBA). Some age-specific effects were apparent for each species only in certain breeding stages, highlighting the complex interaction between intrinsic drivers in determining individual foraging strategies.

Conclusions.  Using cross-sectional data, this study highlighted clear age-related patterns in foraging behavior at the population-level for two species of albatrosses. These trends are likely to have important consequences for the population dynamics of these threatened seabirds, as young or old individuals may be more vulnerable to worsening environmental conditions.”

With thanks to Dimas Gianuca, Kitty Harvill, Richard Phillips and Marion Schön.


Frankish, C.K., Manica, A. & Phillips, R.A. 2020.  Effects of age on foraging behavior in two closely related albatross species.  Movement Ecology

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 14 February 2020

The FAO’s Common Oceans Program to manage marine resources in international waters plans Phase 2 in Rome

Rome Jan 2020

Attendees at the Common Oceans ABNJ Program meetings in Rome, January 2020; ACAP's Executive Secretary, Christine Bogle is sixth from the right in the front row

A meeting of the Global Steering Committee of the Common Oceans ABNJ Program, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) was held in Rome, Italy over 29-30 January this year.  It was preceded over 27-28 January by the seventh meeting of the Project Steering Committee for the ABNJ Tuna project which is a key part of the overall ABNJ programme .  The meetings were held to mark completion of Phase 1 of the programme and to finalise proposals to be put forward to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for a second phase. The GEF had provided funding for Phase 1 of the programme and it is hoped that they will also provide funding assistance to Phase 2.  Co-financing came from a range of entities, some of it in kind.

The Common Oceans ABNJ Program aims to achieve efficient and sustainable management of fisheries resources and biodiversity conservation in marine areas that do not fall under the responsibility of any one country.  It is focused on those areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) - also known as international waters or the High Seas - that cover 40% of the earth’s surface and comprise nearly 95% of the oceans' volume. Phase 1 of the programme comprised several projects, the two main ones being the Tuna project and the Deep Sea project.  ACAP has been a participant in the ABNJ Tuna project since its inception almost six years ago. The Tuna project  had the aim of continuing to strengthen governance in international waters; reinforcing measures to combat Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing; making further progress in protecting international waters' biodiversity by rendering fishing in these waters less harmful to several marine species, including sea turtles, tuna and seabirds; and improving coordination among those with an interest in the sustainable use of international waters.

The Agreement was represented at the Rome meetings by its Executive Secretary, Christine Bogle.  She writes: “ACAP is pleased to have participated in the first phase of the FAO/GEF Common Oceans ABNJ Tuna project, which concluded at the end of 2019.  We contributed ACAP expertise to the first global assessment of seabird bycatch in pelagic longline fishing in the Southern Hemisphere.  In this assessment, a wide range of modelling approaches was used, producing very similar estimates of approximately 30 000 - 40 000 birds killed a year, highlighting the continued threat faced by ACAP-listed species.”

Through the Common Oceans Tuna project, ACAP in the second half of 2019 received support from the FAO for the updating, translation and printing of several of its mitigation fact sheets and best-practice guidelines.  In addition, an update of the Seabird Identification Guide (currently available in six languages) will be completed soon and made available.  In the preparation of these and other products, ACAP cooperates closely with BirdLife International.”

Read FAO posts on the programme and the meeting.

Earlier postings to ACAP Latest News on the Common Oceans Program can be accessed here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 13 February 2020

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