Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

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ACAP Advisory Committee to meet in Uruguay for the eighth time this September

The Eighth Meeting of the Advisory Committee (AC8) of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) will be held from Monday, 15 September to Friday, 19 September 2014, at the Barradas HotelPunta del Este, Uruguay (click here).

This will be the first time ACAP has met in Uruguay.  Previously it has met in all the other South American countries which are Parties to the Agreement: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru.

Meetings of the Advisory Committee’s Population and Conservation Status Working Group (PaCSWG) and Seabird Bycatch Working Group (SBWG) will precede AC8.  These meetings will also be held at the Barradas Hotel, from Monday 8 to Tuesday 9 September (PaCSWG), and Wednesday 10 to Friday 12 September (SBWG).  A Heads of Delegation meeting will be convened on Sunday, 14 September 2014 in the evening.

Meeting documents for AC8 and its working groups will appear prior to the meetings in Punta del Este on this web site.  A glimpse at the provisional agenda for the Advisory Committee reveals that as well as considering reports of the working groups (including of its Taxonomy Working Group) it will also consider any proposals brought forward by Parties to list new species within the Agreement.

Tristan Albatross in Uruguayan waters, photograph by Martin Abreu

A key task for this meeting will be to prepare a summary report on Parties’ progress with implementation of the Agreement.  Because this report will mark the 10-year anniversary of the Agreement coming into effect it is an important milestone and an opportune time to reflect on the achievements made by Parties in improving the conservation status of albatrosses and petrels.

Reports on current work programmes and those proposed for the next triennium for both Advisory Committee and Secretariat will also be reviewed, for consideration and adoption by Parties at the next Session of the Meeting of ACAP Parties due to be held in 2015.

John Cooper ACAP Information Officer, 21 July 2014

The Hookpod aims to go commercial to reduce albatross mortality by pelagic longline fisheries

Over the last decade or so much effort has been put into ways of reducing the mortality of albatrosses and petrels in longline fisheries.  Mitigation measures currently considered to be best practice are the deployment of twinned bird-scaring lines, line weighting and night setting.

Various other techniques have been developed and tested over the years.  Now a new idea from a UK company set up last year, Hookpod Ltd, is aiming to undertake commercial trials with its invention.

According to the company “[t]he Hookpod is an incredibly clever device which provides fishermen with an easy to use and durable way of protecting the barb of hook during setting.  With a built in LED light and weighting, it reduces the need for light sticks and additional weights, thus reducing costs and marine waste.  It also saves your crews setting time and is very effective at reducing accidental bycatch of seabirds.  Designed to last for hundreds of sets over 3 years of operation, the Hookpod provides a single measure to reduce seabird bycatch and ensure fishing operations are as quick, safe and effective as possible.”

Read more about the Hookpod here and here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 20 July 2014

Final issue of MIPEP’s Macquarie Despatch reports on island recovery after removal of vertebrate pests

The final issue (No. 14 of July 2014) of Macquarie Despatch, the newsletter of the successful Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project (MIPEP) has been published.

In it you can read an article by veteran Australian botanist Jenny Scott entitled “Spectacular changes in the post-rabbit era” describing how the sub-Antarctic island’s vegetation is fast recovering.  Information is also given on how biosecurity procedures for visitors to the island have been tightened up.

Macquarie Island view, photograph by Aleks Terauds

 Grey Petrels on Macquarie are doing better post rodents and rabbits

Photograph courtesy of the Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service

A concluding article “A dog’s work is never done...” describes where the rabbit and rodent detection dogs have ended up: seems all have found good homes.

“This will probably be the last Macquarie Dispatch as the project in nearing to a close and was declared a success upon the return of the team in April 2014.  The MIPEP Project Team in conjunction with the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service would like to thank you all for your ongoing support and well wishes during the past 8 years.”  Click here to access earlier issues of the MIPEP newsletter.

They make heartening reading!

Click here to access earlier accounts in ACAP Latest News on Australia's largest island eradication exercise.  See also the ACAP Breeding Site account for Macquarie Island.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 19 July 2014

Looking for “hot spots”: tracking Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses (and other charismatic fauna) in Antarctic waters

Ben Raymond (Australian Antarctic Division, Channel Highway, Tasmania, Australia) and colleagues write in the journal Ecography on tracking electronically ACAP-listed Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses Phoebetria palpebrata, penguins and seals off East Antarctica.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Satellite telemetry data are a key source of animal distribution information for marine ecosystem management and conservation activities.  We used two decades of telemetry data from the East Antarctic sector of the Southern Ocean.  Habitat utilization models for the spring/summer period were developed for six highly abundant, wide-ranging meso- and top-predator species: Adélie Pygoscelis adeliae and emperor Aptenodytes forsteri penguins, light-mantled albatross Phoebetria palpebrata, Antarctic fur seals Arctocephalus gazella, southern elephant seals Mirounga leonina, and Weddell seals Leptonychotes weddellii.  The regional predictions from these models were combined to identify areas utilized by multiple species, and therefore likely to be of particular ecological significance.  These areas were distributed across the longitudinal breadth of the East Antarctic sector, and were characterized by proximity to breeding colonies, both on the Antarctic continent and on subantarctic islands to the north, and by sea-ice dynamics, particularly locations of winter polynyas.  These areas of important habitat were also congruent with many of the areas reported to be showing the strongest regional trends in sea ice seasonality.  The results emphasize the importance of on-shore and sea-ice processes to Antarctic marine ecosystems.  Our study provides ocean-basin-scale predictions of predator habitat utilization, an assessment of contemporary habitat use against which future changes can be assessed, and is of direct relevance to current conservation planning and spatial management efforts.”

Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses fly over Antarctic waters, photograph by John Chardine

See a separate report on the publication here.


Raymond, B., Lea, Patterson, T., Andrews-Goff, V., Sharples, R., Charrassin, J-B., Cottin, M., Emmerson, L., Gales, N., Gales, R., Goldsworthy, S.D., Harcourt, R., Kato, A., Kirkwood, R., Lawton, K., Ropert-Coudert, Y. Southwell, C., van den Hoff, J., Wienecke, B., Woehler, E.J., Wotherspoon, S. & Hindell, M.A. 2014.  Important marine habitat off east Antarctica revealed by two decades of multi-species predator tracking. Ecography DOI:10.1111/ecog.01021.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 18 July 2014

Obituary: William Lancelot Noyes Tickell, pioneer albatross researcher, 1930-2014

When I attended the British Birdwatching Fair in August 2000 at Rutland Water in the UK on behalf of BirdLife International's then "Save the Albatross Campaign" I was first in-line to have my copy of Lance Tickell's just-published book on albatrosses signed by him.  I still consult his book when researching news stories for ACAP Latest News on this web site, and I especially enjoy the final chapter entitled "The Mariner Syndrome" that eruditely reviews poetry about albatrosses since Coleridge's classic "Rime".  Sadly, this was to be our last meeting.

William Lancelot Noyes “Lance” Tickell was born in Coventry, United Kingdom on 21 October 1930, and passed away on 10 June this year.  The following text is largely taken from his biographical sketch, published in The Dictionary of Falklands Biography (Tatham 2008).

“After national service in the army, he attended Coventry Technical College and went on to the University College of North Wales at Bangor graduating in botany and zoology. In 1954 Lance joined the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS) as a meteorological assistant and was posted to Signy Island in the South Orkneys. ‘Metmen’ worked shifts which left plenty of time for field studies of the petrels that nested around the base hut. Always a keen climber, Lance made the first ascent of Mount Nivea (4,154 feet), the highest peak in the South Orkneys.

“On return to the United Kingdom wrote a report on the Dove (now Antarctic) Prion Pachyptila desolata at the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, Oxford under the supervision of Dr David Lack and was awarded an MSc (Wales).

“Encouraged by Nigel Bonner, but with minimal funds, Tickell and Peter Cordall (ex–FIDS) put together the South Georgia Biological Expedition 1958-1959, and sailed in the Christian Salvesen whaling tanker Southern Opal.  They went to Bird Island with Nigel Bonner, helped erect the small garden shed and assisted in tagging 1,700 fur seal pups.  They remained on the island for 15 weeks, setting up field studies of albatrosses and surveying the island.

 Lance Tickell on Bird Island with mollymawk chicks in the 1960s, photographs by Ron Pinder

“Funded by the United States Antarctic Research Program (USARP) of the US National Science Foundation (NSF), Tickell returned to Bird Island in 1960-61 with Harold Dollman (ex–FIDS), again helping Bonner tag fur seal pups, then working on albatrosses.  The following season, while Tickell remained at Johns Hopkins University in the United States, Dollman led the third albatross expedition, accompanied by Charles F le Feuvre (ex–FIDS). Together they banded 12,690 albatrosses, giant petrels and skuas and set out more study plots.

“Albatross research at Bird Island was concluded with an 18 month study of Wandering, Black–browed and Grey–headed albatrosses (1962–64) again funded by NSF (USARP) and supported by British Antarctic Survey (FIDS had been renamed BAS). Three new huts were built and Tickell with Ronald Pinder and entomologist Harry B Clagg wintered in the largest.

“While putting together that last expedition in London in 1962,  Tickell had married Willow Anne Phelps. When he came home in 1964 they went back to Baltimore and Johns Hopkins University where he wrote a dissertation on the great albatrosses for an ScD.  Other papers followed, culminating in 2000 when Albatrosses was published by Christopher Helm.

“In 1966 Tickell joined the (Scottish) Nature Conservancy as warden naturalist for Shetland and Orkney until 1969 when he went to East Africa as lecturer in zoology at Makerere University, Kampala. Other appointments followed in the University of Nairobi, Kenya, Chancellor College in the University of Malawi and the National University of Lesotho. Eventually he and his family returned home where he became a television producer in the BBC Natural History Unit at Bristol.”

Lance Tickell’s publications on albatrosses span an impressive 51 years from 1960 to 2011.  His first and last scientific papers were on the now ACAP-listed Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans, as shown below.  His early research was ground breaking as he discovered that the species was a biennial breeder.  His last publication, in the Royal Naval Birdwatching Society’s annual journal Sea Swallow, gave a new explanation for the still-enigmatic pink staining that appears on the heads of adult Wanderers (click here).

A pink-stained Wandering Albatross, photograph by Martin Abreu

Lance was honoured in 2012 by having a mountain peak named after him on Bird Island (click here).  Tickell Peak is the second highest peak on the island at 290 m and, along with his albatross book, is a lasting memorial to a pioneer albatross researcher.

With grateful thanks to Bob Burton, John Croxall and Ron Pinder for information and photographs.

Selected Literature:

Sladen, W.J.L. & Tickell, W.L.N. 1958.  Antarctic bird banding by the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey, 1945-57.  Bird-Banding 29: 1-26.

Tatham, D. 2008.  The Dictionary of Falklands Biography (including South Georgia) from Discovery up to 1981.  Hereford, U.K.: Editor's Edition.  576 pp.

Tickell, W.L.N. 1960.  Chick feeding in the Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans Linnæus.  Nature 185: 116-117.

Tickell, W.L.N. 1960.  A new method of colour marking petrels and albatrosses.  The Ring 22: 201-203.

Tickell, W.L.N. 1962.  The Dove Prion, Pachyptila desolata Gmelin.  Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey Scientific Reports No. 33.  55 pp. + 8 plates.

Tickell, W.L.N. 1964.  Feeding preferences of the albatrosses Diomedea melanophris and D. chrysostoma at South Georgia.  In: Carrick R. (Ed.).  Antarctic Biology.  Paris: Hermann.  pp. 383-387.

Tickell, W.L.N. 1966.  Movements of Black-browed and Grey-headed Albatrosses in the South Atlantic.  Emu 66: 357-367.

Tickell, W.L.N. 1968.  The biology of the great albatrosses, Diomedea exulans and Diomedea epomophoraAntarctic Bird Studies 12: 1-56.  Washington: American Geophysical Union.

Tickell, W.L.N. 1968.  Feeding preferences of the albatrosses Diomedea melanophris and D. chrysostoma at South Georgia.  In: Carrick, R., Holdgate, M. & Prevost, J. (Eds).  Biologie Antarctique.  Paris: Hermann.  pp. 383-387

Tickell, .L.N. 1969.  Plumage changes in young albatrosses.  Ibis 111: 102-105.

Tickell, W.L.N. 1970.  Biennial breeding inalbatrosses. In: Holdgate, M.W. (Ed.).  Antarctic Ecology Vol. 1.  London: Academic Press.  pp. 549-557.

Tickell, W.L.N. 1975.  Observations on the status of the Steller's Albatross (Diomedea albatrus).  International Council for Bird Preservation Bulletin 41: 125-131.

Tickell, W.L.N. 1976.  The distribution of Black-browed and Grey-headed Albatrosses.  Emu 76: 64-68.

Tickell, W. L. N. 1984. Behaviour of Blackbrowed and Greyheaded Albatrosses at Bird Island, South George.  Ostrich 55: 64-85.

Tickell, W.L.N. 1995.  Atlas of southern hemisphere albatrosses.  Australasian Seabird Group Newsletter 29: 2-24.

Tickell, W.L.N., 1996.  Galapagos Albatrosses at sea.  Sea Swallow 45: 83-85.

Tickell, W.L.N. 2000.  Albatrosses.  Mountfield: Pica Press.  448 pp.

Tickell, W.L.N. 2011.  Plumage contamination on Wandering Albatrosses -an aerodynamic model.  Sea Swallow 60: 67-69.

Tickell, W.L.N. & Gibson, J.D. 1968.  Movements of Wandering Albatrosses, Diomedea exulans.  Emu 68: 6-20.

Tickell, W.L.N. & Pinder, R. 1967.  Breeding frequency in the albatrosses Diomedea melanophris and D. chrysostoma.  Nature 213: 315-316.

Tickell, W.L.N. & Pinder, R. 1968.  Two-egg clutches in albatrosses.  Ibis 108: 126-129.

Tickell, W.L.N. & Pinder, R. 1975.  Breeding biology of the Black-browed Albatross Diomedea melanophris and Grey-headed Albatross D. chrysostoma at Bird Island, South Georgia.  Ibis 117: 433-451.

Tickell, W.L.N. & Scotland, C.D. 1961.  Recoveries of ringed giant petrels Macronectes giganteus.  Ibis 103a: 260-266.

Tickell, W.L.N., & Woods, R.W. 1972.  Ornithological observations at sea in the South Atlantic Ocean, 1954-64.  British Antarctic Survey Bulletin 31: 63-84.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 17 July 2014

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