A joint endeavour between tourists and the United Kingdom aims to survey Wandering Albatrosses Diomedea exulans at South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur)* in January next year.
Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris, a USA company, plans to take a group of seven tourists and an expedition leader south on the 26-m Hans Hansson to help support a decadal count of breeding pairs of the island’s Wandering Albatross population. Information from the albatross survey, to be led by island veteran Sally Poncet, will be made available to ACAP. The ship will carry up to four scientists who will undertake the actual counts.
Wanderers display on a South Atlantic island, photograph by Richard Phillips
According to the tourist company’s website participants will have the opportunity to join the scientists ashore to assist with the survey or explore with professional photographer Scott Davis. Some of these visits will be to localities not normally open to tourism - such as Albatross Island in the Bay of Isles and regions along the main island’s south-western coast under special permit (click here). The expedition is set to last for nearly four weeks and intends to circumnavigate the main island.
Populations of Wandering Albatrosses in the South Atlantic have been decreasing over recent years leading to ACAP identifying them as being a high priority for conservation action at its Fourth Session of the Meeting of the Parties held in Lima, Peru in April 2012 (click here). Data from the planned survey should provide an indication of the island’s current population trend and address the requirements of article 4.1 of the ACAP Action Plan, providing essential information to aid in the species’ conservation.
John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 13 May 2014, updated 26 May 2014
*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.