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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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Seven World Albatross Day 2020 Posters from Artists & Biologists Unite for Nature are now available electronically for printing

AbunLowResKitty 

"All for One, One for All - ALBATROSS", by ABUN founder, Kitty Harvill

Seven World Albatross Day 2020 posters designed from ACAP's collaboration with Artists & Biologists Unite for Nature (ABUN) over January and February 2020 are now available for downloading from this website’s ‘World Albatross Day” section accessible from the home page.  Alternatively go directly to the images to obtain free high-resolution versions suitable for printing at A3 size here.

More WAD2020 and related posters by Owen Davey, Michelle Risi and Jamie Watts  (some of which are downloadable at high resolution) can be viewed from here.

Please note all the downloadable electronic poster images are only made available for personal display or for use when engaging in activities that will aid in drawing attention to the conservation crisis faced by the world’s albatrosses.  They may not be used for personal or commercial financial gain.  ACAP is not able to contribute to the costs of printing the posters other than by supplying the images by electronic means.

Read more about the ABUN collaboration here, which included the creation of a nine-and-a-half-minute music video.

Grey Head head2 WAD shrunk 

Grey-headed Albatross on Marion Island, photograph and poster design by Michelle Risi

With grateful thanks to ABUN artists Kitty Harvill, Mary Ingrum, Jan Phethean, Di Roberts, Maureen Rousseau and Anne Shoemaker, and to Owen Davey, Michelle Risi, Graham Robertson and Jamie Watts for use of their poster images.  Ruth Cooper kindly designed the ABUN posters for ACAP.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 08 April 2020

Aerial census techniques for breeding Antipodean and Southern Royal Albatrosses tested in the Auckland Islands

Antipodean Albatross pair 2 Adams Island Colin ODonnell s

A breeding pair of Gibson's Antipodean Albatrosses on Adams Island, photograph by Colin O'Donnell

Barry Baker (Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia) and colleagues have published in the journal Notornis on using helicopter-based photography to count breeding great albatrosses Diomedea spp.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Two approaches to estimating the population size of great albatrosses (Diomedea spp.) were tested in the Auckland Islands, New Zealand.  The first approach used a series of aerial photographs taken on Adams Island to produce high-resolution photo-mosaics suitable for counting nesting Gibson’s wandering albatross (Diomedea antipodensis gibsoni).  The second involved a direct count from a helicopter of southern royal albatross (D. epomophora) breeding on Enderby Island.  Both techniques produced results that closely matched counts of albatrosses attending nests derived from ground counts, although aerial counts could not determine whether birds were sitting on eggs or empty nests.  If estimates of breeding pairs are required, aerial counts of nests require a correction factor to adjust for birds that are apparently nesting but have not laid.  Such correction factors are best based on ground counts undertaken simultaneously with the aerial counts.  Used in conjunction with correction factors, the two techniques provide a method of estimating the population size of great albatrosses breeding in remote areas where it may be logistically difficult to undertake ground counts of the whole population.”

This publication forms part of a compilation of 19 papers appearing in a special issue of the journal Notornis of Birds New Zealand that covers many aspects of the avifauna of the Auckland Islands. The special issue is also being made available as a 436-page book with the title Lost Gold: Ornithology of the subantarctic Auckland Islands.  Edited by Colin Miskelly and Craig Symes, it can be ordered for purchase (click here).  An interview with the two editors gives information about their work with the book. Click here to access abstracts for all 19 papers.

Southern Royal Albatross Graham Parker Mew Hunt

Southern Royal Albatross, artwork by  Mew Hunt‎ from a photograph by Graham Parker

With thanks to Barry Baker and Colin Miskelly.

Reference:

Baker, G.B., Elliott, G.P., French, R.K., Jensz, K., Muller, C.G. & Walker, K.J. 2020.  Development of aerial monitoring techniques to estimate population size of great albatrosses (Diomedea spp.).  Notornis 67: 321-331.

John Cooper. ACAP Information Officer, 07 April 2020

New Zealand’s World Albatross Day banner is photographed with Buller’s Albatrosses on the Snares Islands

Albatross Day banner at The Snares Mar 2020 

A 'WAD2020' banner on The Snares with Buller's Albatrosses.  From left: David Thompson, Paul Sagar and David Sagar (in front)

The now well-travelled World Albatross Day banner made by Graham Parker and Kalinka Rexer-Huber of the environmental consultancy Parker Conservation made it to New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic Snares Islands last month.

Following the banner’s return with Graham and Kalinka from its successful outing to the Auckland Islands, David Sagar (DOC), Paul Sagar (NIWA) and David Thompson (NIWA) displayed it at one of the long-established study colonies of globally Near Threatened and nationally Naturally Uncommon Southern Buller's Albatrosses Thalassarche b. bulleri on North East Island in the Snares group.

‘WAD2020’ banners have now been displayed on most of New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands, as well as on Three Kings Islands situated north of New Zealand where the Northern Buller’s Albatross T. b. platei has a small breeding population (and where the same banner made a quick visit in February).

Paul Sagar writes to ACAP Latest News: “In addition to displaying the banner, a highlight of the trip was finding a 48-year old Southern Buller's Albatross that had been banded as a chick in 1972 by Don Horning.  The bird was occupying an empty nest, the same one that it has occupied for the last 25 or so years that I have been recapturing it.  It was last on an egg in March 2019.  The bird was originally banded on a nest in the same area where it now itself breeds.  Measurements of it that I took in the 1990s indicate that it is a female.”

An even older Southern Buller’s recaptured by Paul on The Snares back in 1993 was estimated as 57 years old (click here).

Bullers Albatross Paul Sagar Shary Page Weckwerth

Buller's Albatross, artwork for Artists & Biologists Unite for Nature by Shary Page Weckwerth from a photograph by Paul Sagar

Paul has also offered his personal support for WAD2020: “Albatrosses nest on some of the most remote islands of the world and travel the High Seas far from land.  Yet they still suffer from the effects of a range of human activities that threaten their existence.  A World Albatross Day is an excellent way to raise awareness of the plight of these iconic seabirds.” .

With thanks to Shary Page Weckwerth (ABUN wildlife artist), Graham Parker (Parker Conservation) and Paul Sagar ( retired, Marine Ecology Group, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research; NIWA).

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 06 April 2020

UPDATED. Expedition to satellite track Antipodean Albatrosses from Antipodes Island cut short due to COVID-19

Antipodean Albatross Colin ODonnell Diana L Andersen 

Antipodean Albatross by Diana L. Andersen, colouring-in drawing from a photograph (see below) by Colin O'Donnell

UPDATE:  The research team left the island early after only a week ashore, due to issues related to the COVID-19 virus.  However, Kath Walker reports to ACAP Latest News that it  was still possible to fit trackers to 40 Antipodean Albatrosses.

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New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) scientists Graeme Elliott and Kath Walker are visiting Antipodes Island for the next six weeks to attach GPS satellite transmitters to the nominate subspecies (endemic to the island) of the globally Endangered and Nationally Critical Antipodean Albatross Diomedea antipodensis.  The transmitters will track the birds at sea to ascertain where they go and where they may encounter fishing vessels.

“The [nominate] Antipodean Albatross population has declined by two thirds over the last fifteen years from around 16 000 breeding birds to 6000.  The major threat to these birds is being accidentally caught by longline fishing vessels, mainly on the high seas, outside New Zealand waters.  The female population is being affected more severely than the males.  Oceanic changes are thought to have driven the females to forage [farther] north and east of New Zealand, pushing them into waters where they are at greater risk from international longline fishing fleets.”

Live Ocean, a marine conservation charity partnered with the Southern Seabirds Solutions Trust, has raised NZ$70 000 to help pay for the satellite trackers, increasing the number of transmitters that Fisheries New Zealand and DOC have provided.

“Satellite trackers on albatrosses can pinpoint the exact location (within a few metres) of the bird in near real-time.  The birds can be monitored via the albatross tracker app which was developed by DOC and FNZ.  Their flight paths can be overlaid with the activity of individual fishing vessels to identify those posing most risk of bycatch”.

The Antipodean Albatross is listed on Appendices I and II of the Convention for Migratory Species.  The Antipodes Island nominate population has been recognised since 2017 as a population of conservation concern by ACAP.

Read more about the expedition here.

Antipodean Albatross 3 Adams Island Colin ODonnell

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 23 March 2020, updated 05 April 2020

An estimated 340 pairs of Northern Giant Petrels breed on New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands

NGPs Diasappointment Island Graham Parker 

A Northern Giant Petrel breeding site on Disappointment Island, Auckland Islands, photograph by Graham Parker

Graham Parker (Parker Conservation, Dunedin, New Zealand) and colleagues have published in the journal Notornis on the population size of Northern Giant Petrels Macronectes halli on the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“This first breeding population estimate of northern giant petrels (Macronectes halli) in the Auckland Islands group involved whole-island censuses, apart from the main Auckland Island, in the 2015-16 breeding season, and multi-year repeat visits to a subset of island colonies.  Parallel line-transects in giant petrel habitat were used to survey the number and spatial distribution of pre-fledging chicks.  The Auckland Islands 2015-16 whole-island census resulted in a count of 216 northern giant petrel chicks on eight of the 15 islands in the group.  Applying a simple correction factor, the breeding population in 2015 is estimated as c. 340 breeding pairs (range 310–390).  This estimate is higher than historical non-quantitative records of 50–200 breeding pairs.  Multi-year counts on Enderby, Rose, Frenchs, Ocean, Disappointment, and Adams Islands showed some inter-annual variability, but other island colonies remained more stable.  The northern giant petrel colony on Enderby Island has increased from two chicks in 1988 to 96–123 chicks in 2015–18 (four annual counts undertaken).”

This publication forms part of a compilation of 19 papers appearing in a special issue of the journal Notornis of Birds New Zealand that covers many aspects of the avifauna of the Auckland Islands. The special issue is also being made available as a 436-page book with the title Lost Gold: Ornithology of the subantarctic Auckland Islands.  Edited by Colin Miskelly and Craig Symes, it can be ordered for purchase (click here).  An interview with the two editors gives information about their work with the book. Click here to access abstracts for all 19 papers.

With thanks to Graham Parker and Kalinka Rexer-Huber, Parker Conservation.

Reference:

Parker, G.C., French, R.K., Muller, C.G., Taylor, G.A. & Rexer-Huber, K. 2020.  First northern giant petrel (Macronectes halli) breeding population survey and estimate for the Auckland Islands, New Zealand.  Notornis 67: 357-368.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 05 April 2020

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