Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

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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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Hawaii’s Kure Atoll advertises World Albatross Day with a ‘virtual banner’

Kure banner Andrew Sullivan Haskins

Photograph and design of a 'virtual' WAD2020 banner, by Andrew Sullivan-Haskins

Andrew Sullivan-Haskins is the Field Leader for the Kure Atoll Wildlife Sanctuary within the State of Hawaii’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Department of Land and Natural Resources.  Following an approach from ACAP Latest News he has replied in support of World Albatross Day with a ‘virtual banner’.  Andrew writes:

short tailed albatross kure cynthia  vanderlip

One of the female-female pair of Short-tailed Albatrosses on Kure Atoll - with their two infertile eggs, photograph from Kure Atoll Conservancy

“Kure Atoll is considered one of the most remote spots on the planet and lies approximately 2250 km north-west of Honolulu on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.  Due to its extremely remote location, and our limited communication options, we are unable to send pictures via the internet.  Field teams are generally switched out twice per year and are typically deployed for field seasons ranging from five to eight months, sometimes without a re-supply.

In addition to the Critically Endangered Laysan Duck Anas layensis and Hawaiian Monk Seal Neomonachus schauinslandi, Kure is home to 18 species of seabirds, including the Laysan Albatross, Black-footed Albatross and the Vulnerable Short-tailed Albatross.  Our mission is to support the State of Hawaii's ongoing habitat restoration and other wildlife management programs that enhance the biological diversity, ecosystem health and cultural resources of Kure Atoll in the North-western Hawaiian Archipelago.

Andrew Sullivan-Haskins on Kure with a Laysan Albatross – and beached litter, photograph by Saxony Charlot

"For anyone who has seen or spent time near an albatross, and taken the time to observe their powerful yet graceful flight, their loving and nurturing nature, their intricate dance routines, and their remarkable ability to make you laugh and to make you cry they are humbling.  Persistent with their dedication to their own species, despite humankind's best efforts to impede these great travellers, they remain resilient.  Throughout their potentially long-lived lives, albatross battle the harshest conditions that both humankind and nature can throw at them, from Tiger Sharks Galeocerdo cuvier to long lines, flooding and disease, plastic ingestion, entanglements, and habitat loss.  World Albatross Day can help to illuminate the beauty and struggle of these seabirds, as well as many of the plants and animals around the world that are at risk due to man-made climate change, unsustainable human practices, loss of critical habitat, forces of nature, and a myriad of other challenges that inevitably lie ahead.  How each and every human being decides to live their life will impact the future of all remaining species.”

Environmental management on Kure Atoll is supported by volunteers from the Kure Atoll Conservancy, which has offered its own support for 'WAD2020'.

With thanks to Ilana Nimz and Cynthia Vanderlip, Kure Atoll Conservancy.

Andrew Sullivan-Haskins, Field Leader, Kure Atoll Wildlife Sanctuary, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, with John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 01 June 2020

UPDATED. Short-tailed Albatrosses George and Geraldine's chick leaves its nest to fledge

UPDATED

AA09

The chick has now left its nest, crossed the island on foot and was filmed on the beach and photographed in the water.  Looks like George and Geraldine's second chick will fledge successfully.  Go the to the Friends Of Midway Atoll NWR Facebook page for more photos and short video.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Midway STAL chick 28 April

The 2019/20 Short-tailed Albatross chick gets plastic Red AA09 and metal USGS Bird Banding Laboratory bands

George and Geraldine are a pair of globally Vulnerable Short-tailed Albatrosses Phoebastria albatrus that breeds on the USA’s Midway Atoll in the North-Western Hawaiian Islands.  Last season they successfully reared their first chick to fledging.  Now it seems they are well on their way to repeating the success, with their 2019/20 chick being banded on 28 April.

Georg Geraldine 2018Madalyn Riley

Geraldine (left) and George on Midway Atoll in 2018, photograph by Madalyn Riley

“The almost four-month-old Short-tailed Albatross chick is now the size of the nearby adult Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses.  Its legs are fully developed which allowed U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff to band the chick.  It became the second successful chick banded on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge from the parents George and Geraldine.  The remote camera has revealed that the chick is still being fed by both parents, but the times between feeding visits will become longer until the time the chick will fledge, probably by the end of May - early June.”

The birds were seen back on Midway on 23 October last year, laid their egg on 28 October, which then hatched on 2 January.

Midway STAL chick 28 April colour band Narongkorn Thatsanangkun

Midway STAL chick 28 April metal band Narongkorn Thatsanangkun

 

 

 

 

 

Banding photographs by Narongkorn Thatsanangkun

 

Midway STAL chick 28 April Narongkorn Thatsanangkun

Read more about George and Geraldine here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 05 May 2020, updated 31 May 2020

Pacific Rim Conservation interns practice social distancing to display their World Albatross Day art

Pacific Rim Conservation is a non-profit organization based on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.  Founded in 2006, it undertakes and supports research-based management on native species, particularly birds.  The PSG’s mission is to maintain and restore native bird diversity, populations, and ecosystems in Hawaii and the Pacific Region.  With a current staff of 10, the PSG is headed up by Lindsay Young (Executive Director) and Eric Vanderwerf (Director of Science).  Husbandry work falls under the Director of Aviculture, Robbie Kohley, supported by a team that includes an annual intake of up to 10 interns.

“To stem the loss of nesting habitat for seabirds, whose primary nesting islands in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are being lost to sea level rise, we are creating new, safe nesting sites for them on high-islands by creating 'mainland islands'.  Our two current flagship projects are the Nihoku Ecosystem Restoration Project at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on the island of Kaua‘i and the Albatross Translocation Project at the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge on Oahu.  Both projects involve full-scale ecosystem restoration from predator proof fencing, to predator removal, habitat restoration and seabird translocation to restore the avifauna of the area.”  As part of the PRC’s “No Net Loss” programme, chicks of seven procellariiform species have been or are being translocated, including two ACAP-listed and globally Near Threatened albatrosses, Black-footed Phoebastria nigripes and Laysan P. immutabilis to the James Campbell NWR.

Earlier in the year ACAP Latest News reached out to Pacific Rim Conservation with a request for it to support next month’s inaugural World Albatross Day with a banner.  Once again, COVID-19 restrictions have got in the way, requiring a change of plan from the communally designed and displayed ‘WAD2020’ banners that ALN has been featuring from other albatross breeding sites – such as on Midway Atoll.  With no accommodation on site the aviculture team has been commuting daily to the national wildlife reserve to hand feed the translocated Black-footed Albatross chicks, as much as possible practicing social distancing in separate vehicles.  Five of the 2020 intern cohort then continued the practice of keeping apart by posing for individual photographs holding up their artwork commemorating World Albatross Day - as illustrated here.

 PRC WAD2020 banner Carly Kano

Carly Kano

PRC WAD2020 banner Emily Reichard

Emily Reichard

PRC WAD2020 banner Glenn Meador

Glenn Meador

PRC WAD2020 banner Liliana Tobar 

Liliana Tobar

PRC WAD2020 banner Madison OBrien

Madison O'Brien

 With thanks to Lindsay Young, Pacific Rim Conservation.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 31 May 2020

Researching Black-browed Albatrosses on the South Atlantic’s New Island with a World Albatross Day banner

New Island Martin Beal 1 

From left at back: Aude Boutet, Jaime Catry, Paulo Catry; at front: Tash Gillies, Amanda Kuepfer, Martin Beal, Francesco Venture & Lisa Gouck in the 'The Bowl' colony

This last austral summer a research group led by the Atlantic Migrants Group based at MARE-ISPA in Portugal travelled to New Island, Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)* to undertake research on breeding Black-browed Albatrosses Thalassarche melanophris.

New Island was first established as a private nature reserve in 1972.  The island is owned and managed by the New Island Conservation Trust.

Led by MARE-ISPA’s Paulo Catry, albatross research conducted on New Island included annual population monitoring for long-term demographic studies, tracking of breeding birds for foraging studies, and observational work looking at pair-bonding behaviour within the colony.  Colleagues from the Oxford Navigation Group, Oxford University and from elsewhere contributed to the field work.  Two members of the field team, Martin Beal and Amanda Kuepfer, found time to make a World Albatross Day banner, using a wooden board and marker pens.  Not to be outdone, Aude Boutet made an ‘Albatross Christmas Tree’, which was first used for the team’s Christmas celebrations.

New Island Martin Beal 2

From left:  Tash Gillies, Francesco Ventura, Martin Beal, Jaime Catry, Paulo Catry, Brendon Lee; in front: Amanda Kuepfer & Aude Boutet

In addition to the albatross work by MARE-ISPA, other researchers present on the island monitored populations of Thin-billed Prions Pachyptila belcheri, Southern Rockhopper Penguins Eudyptes chrysocome and Imperial Cormorants Phalacrocorax atriceps.  One of the last WAD2020 banner photos to be submitted, Martin informs ACAP Latest News that the researchers were fortunate to get back to their respective homes before international travel restrictions due to COVID-19 kicked in.

With thanks to Martin Beal & Paulo Catry, MARE-ISPA.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 30 May 2020

*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.

A new World Albatross Day banner from Bird Island in the South Atlantic

IMG 3213 resized Alex Dodds 1

Alex Dodds with her WAD2020 Banner and downy Wandering Albatross chicks on Bird Island

Bird Island in the South Atlantic has already contributed twice to the ‘banner challenge’ issued by ACAP to support the inaugural World Albatross Day on 19 June (click here).  Come a new research team and a new breeding season on the island and Zoological Field Assistant Alex Dodds has made a new WAD2020 banner and ventured afield for a few more photographs.

BirdLife International’s Albatross Task Force has commented on Alex’s field work:

“Alex Dodds is well accustomed to the hiking life as she spends each day trekking across the rugged terrain of Bird Island … conducting fieldwork.  With mostly just the albies for company, Alex’s days are marked by the changes in her surroundings: the depth of footprints in the snow, the fog that hangs over the water, the early morning sun on the horizon and the iconic mountain tops rising steeply from the sea, covered in a fresh dusting of powdery snow.”

 IMG 3201 resized Alex Dodds

Social media star chick Nova marks this month’s inaugural World Albatross Day

“Alex covers on average three miles [5 km] every single day, including at least 200 metres of ascent!  This totals a whopping 91 miles [146 km] a month and over 1000 miles [1600 km] a year! There are not many paths on Bird Island so she has to hike up streams, jump between huge tussac grass mounds and dodge bogs along the way.”

Alex’s efforts in support of albatross conservation will now be entered into the ‘WAD2020 Banner Competition’ with the chance of winning a prize.  Best of luck!

 Alex Dodds footprints

Both field assistant and albatross leave their footprints in the snow

With thanks to Alexandra Dodds, Zoological Field Assistant – Albatross, Bird Island Research Station, British Antarctic Survey.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 29 May 2020

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