First definite record of the Tristan Albatross for Uruguay?

Although it is known that Tristan Albatrosses Diomedea dabbenena regularly visit the south-west Atlantic, there are as yet no definite records of the species from Uruguayan waters, with published satellite-tracking data for the species off South America restricted to Brazilian waters and to international waters off Uruguay (Cuthbert et al. 2005).

The presence of the closely-related Wandering Albatross D. exulans off Uruguay has been confirmed by birds banded at Bird Island, South Georgia (Islas Georgia del Sur)* being caught on pelagic longlines.  However, two unbanded great albatrosses similarly caught within Uruguayan waters are thought to have been female Tristan Albatrosses based on their measurements, following Cuthbert et al. (2003).

The first definite record of a Tristan Albatross in Uruguayan waters appears to be of an adult bird photographed at sea by Martín Abreu at 36° 47'S, 53° 26'W on 5 November 2009 and bearing on its right leg a yellow alpha-numeric plastic band.  Although not very clear in the photograph the band appears to be inscribed with C51.

The bird bearing this band was first banded (with metal band J-06393) as a chick on 2 October 1991 in Gonydale on Gough Island.  On 22 February 2007 it was recaptured as an incubating adult in Gonydale when the colour band was added.

C51 bred unsuccessfully in 2007 and 2010, but was successful in 2008.  As a biennially-breeding species, a breeding attempt was not expected in 2009 after fledging a chick the previous year.


CUTHBERT, R.[J.], HILTON, G.[M.], RYAN, P.[G.] & TUCK, G.N. 2005.  At-sea distribution of breeding Tristan Albatrosses Diomedea dabbenena and potential interactions with pelagic longline fishing in the South Atlantic Ocean.  Biological Conservation 121: 345-355.

CUTHBERT, R.J., PHILLIPS, R.A. & RYAN, P.G. 2003.  Separating the Tristan Albatross and the Wandering Albatross using morphometric measurements.  Waterbirds 26: 338-344.

With thanks to Marienne de Villiers and Kalinka Rexer-Huber for their help with the Gough Tristan Albatross data base.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer & Martín Abreu & Sebastián Jiménez, Proyecto Albatros y Petreles - Uruguay, 14 October 2010

*A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (Islas Georgias del Sur y Islas Sandwich del Sur) and the surrounding maritime areas.

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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