TOPP marks for albatross trackers

Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP began in 2000 as one of 17 projects of the Census for Marine Life, an ambitious 10-year, 80-nation endeavour to assess and explain the diversity and abundance of life in the oceans, and where that life has lived, is living, and will live.  Several dozen TOPP researchers from eight countries began venturing into offshore waters, remote islands, and along rugged coastlines to attach satellite tags to 22 different species of top predators that roam the Pacific Ocean. As of 2007, they have tagged more than 2000 animals, including elephant seals, white sharks, leatherback turtles, squid - and albatrosses. 


Tracking of seabirds within TOPP is led by Scott Shaffer of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California Santa Cruz, USA. Collaborators include Melinda Connors, Dan Costa, Don Croll, Bill Henry, Michelle Kappes, Yann Tremblay and Lindsay Young.


Tagging efforts of ACAP-listed species include following Black-footed Albatrosses Phoebastria nigripes and Laysan Albatrosses P. immutabilis from Midway Atoll National Wildlife Reserve, Tern Island and French Frigate Shoals (Northwestern Hawaii Islands) and Laysan Albatrosses from Kaeana Point, Oahu, Hawaiian Islands and Guadalupe Island, Mexico. In addition the foraging ecology of the Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses Thalassarche carteri is being studied at French Amsterdam Island in the southern Indian Ocean.

Satellite, GPS and archival geolocation loggers are used in the above studies, allowing juveniles as well as breeding adults to be followed at sea.

Research on Guadalupe has included protecting the Laysan Albatross colony (established in 1983) from feral cats and removing introduced goats from the island, working with the Island Conservation and Ecology Group ( in the United States and Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas in Mexico. 

NOAA’s Pacific Fisheries Ecosystems Laboratory, Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Laboratory and the University of California, Santa Cruz’s Long Marine Laboratory, all in the USA, manage the programme.



Click here for a 2009 update on TOPP's tracking of North Pacific albatrosses.



 John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, posted 22 May 2009

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

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