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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The at-sea distributions of albatrosses and petrels in the Southern Ocean get mapped

Yan Ropert-Coudert (Université de Strasbourg, Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien, Strasbourg, France) and colleagues have written the chapter on sub-Antarctic and Antarctic birds and mammals in the Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean, newly published by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR).

The chapter consists of a series of maps and accompanying text describing the at-sea distributions based on sightings made from ships in the Southern Ocean of flying seabirds, penguins, seals and cetaceans.  Of ACAP-listed species eight taxa (some species pairs are lumped) of albatrosses, both giant petrels Macronectes spp. and White-chinned Procellaria aequinoctialis and Grey P. cinerea Petrels are included.

 

Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses, photograph by Aleks Terauds

With thanks to Richard Phillips for information.

Reference:

Ropert-Coudert, Y., Hindell, M.A., Phillips R.[A.], Charassin, J.B., Trudelle, L. & Raymond, B. 2014.  Chapter 8.  Biogeographic patterns of birds and mammals.  In: De Broyer, C., Koubbi, P., Griffiths, H.J., Raymond, B., Udekem d’Acoz, C.d.’, Van de Putte, A.P., Danis, B., David, B., Grant, S., Gutt, J., Held, C., Hosie, G., Huettmann, F., Post, A. & Ropert-Coudert, Y. (Eds.).  Biogeographic Atlas of the Southern Ocean.  Cambridge: Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.  pp. 364-387.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 28 September 2014

Bird-scaring lines to be adopted in the USA’s Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery to help keep Short-tailed Albatrosses off the hook

The USA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has called for public comment on a proposal to make deployment of a bird-scaring line a requirement in its demersal longline fishery operating along the Pacific coasts of California, Oregon and Washington.

The summary of the notice in the Federal Register follows:

“This proposed rule would implement a Seabird Avoidance Program in the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery.  The proposed rule was recommended by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) in November 2013 and is specifically designed to minimize the take of ESA-listed short-tailed albatross (Phoebastria albatrus).  A 2012 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Biological Opinion required NMFS to initiate implementation of regulations within 2 years mandating the use of seabird avoidance measures by vessels greater than or equal to 55 feet length overall (LOA) using bottom longline gear to harvest groundfish.  The seabird avoidance measures, including streamer lines that deter birds from ingesting baited hooks, are modeled after a similar regulatory program in effect for the Alaskan groundfish fishery.”

Short-tailed Albatross at sea, photograph by Aleks Terauds

Click here to read the full account

Comments on the proposed rule must be received on or before 9 October 2014.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 27 September 2014

Manx Shearwaters breed successfully on a United Kingdom island freed of its rats

Following the successful eradication of Norway or Brown Rats Rattus norvegicus from the inhabited islands of St. Agnes and Gugh in the United Kingdom’s Isles of Scilly (click here) the news is in that Manx Shearwaters Puffinus puffinus are about to fledge chicks on the two connected islands for the first time in living memory.  Although Manx shearwaters have bred on these two islands for decades, eggs and chicks were always eaten by rats while they were still in their burrows.

The latest issue (September 2014) of the Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project’s Rat on a Rat Update has the news:

“Yippee!  We are delighted to announce that Manx shearwater chicks have been spotted peeking out from their burrows and ‘wing-flapping’ on St Agnes and Gugh.  They are the first shearwater chicks to be recorded [outside their burrows] on either island in living memory.  Taking great care, Seabird Ecologist Dr Vickie Heaney, project volunteers and ourselves duly visited the burrows under cover of starlight on four separate evenings from August 29th to September 12th.  The result –10 healthy chicks.  Trail cameras have been set out to collect footage of the chicks’ nocturnal behaviour.”

 

Manx Shearwaters emerge from their burrows at night on the Isles of Scilly

Click here to view a video clip of one of the Manxie chicks emerging from its burrow at night.

Biosecurity activities on the islands until official confirmation of the rat eradication comes in early 2016 include discouraging and removing food sources by beach cleans, bin days and an ‘Apple Day’ when wind-fallen apples will be collected and juiced. Despite several false alarms no confirmed rat sightings (or of their droppings) have been made since the eradication exercise was completed.

The rat eradication project was undertaken from November 2013 to March 2014 using ground baiting by Elizabeth (Biz) Bell and colleagues of New Zealand’s Wildlife Management International Ltd (WMIL) (click here).

The Isles of Scilly project was recently visited by members of a team that aims to remove Black or Ship Rats R. rattus from Italy’s Tavolara Island off Sardinia to protect its large population of Yelkouan Shearwaters P. yelkouan (click here).  This Vulnerable species was identified as a potential candidate for ACAP listing last year at a meeting of ACAP's Advisory Committee (click here).

With thanks to Jaclyn Pearson, Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project Manager for information and photographs.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 26 September 2014

Work on Black-browed Albatross data from the South Atlantic: an employment opportunity in Portugal

An opportunity exists while based in Portugal to analyse data collected on Black-browed Albatrosses Thalassarche melanophris in the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)*.

“We are looking for a post-doctoral researcher to fill a 12 month position in our research group at ISPA – Instituto Universitário (Portugal) to work in a long-term research project involving black-browed albatrosses in the Falkland Islands.  The successful candidate should have very strong skills in GIS and data handling and processing, including spatial and activity data (from GLS trackers) and be able to successfully carry out advanced analyses of multiple and complex datasets in a largely autonomous way, including demographic, behavioural and oceanographic data.  Date of start pending on final approval by national (Portuguese) authorities, but likely before the end of 2014.  We are only able to consider candidates with a PhD certificate that has already been awarded.

The successful candidate will analyse existing datasets in order to relate individual quality, personality traits, diet and long-term behaviour at sea both during the breeding and non-breeding season. Fieldwork will be of limited duration or non-existent.

Closing date: 9 October 2014

Candidates should send an email with CV, references and motivation letter to Paulo Catry: paulo.catry@gmail.com.”

A Black-browed Albatross breeds next to penguins on New Island, photograph by Ian Strange 

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 25 September 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.

From Hawaii to Oregon and California: two colour-banded Black-footed Albatrosses photographed at sea

A six-year old Black-footed Albatross Phoebastria nigripes bearing yellow band AJ03 was photographed at sea by Fabrice Schmitt during a pelagic birding trip out off Newport, Oregon, USA on 24 August this year.  The bird was banded as a chick on Tern Island, French Frigate Shoals in the north-western Hawaiian islands on 21 May 2008.

 

Colour-banded Black-footed Albatross yellow AJ03 off Oregon, photographs by Fabrice Schmitt

Beth Flint of the US Fish & Wildlife Service while attending ACAP meetings in Uruguay earlier this month informed ACAP Latest News of another at-sea sighting whose reporting arose from on-line publicity around the Oregon record.  Vicki Miller photographed a Black-footed Albatross on 14 September this year off Fort Bragg, California.  The bird, which shows signs of moult in its wings, carried two bands, one of which was readable as yellow V254.  This record awaits checking for the site and date of banding.

Colour-banded Black-footed Albatross yellow V254 off California, photographs by Vicki Miller 

According to Beth Flint such “citizen science” observations are to be greatly welcomed as they add to knowledge of distribution at sea which ultimately aids in the species’ conservation.

Click here to obtain details on pelagic seabird-watching trips out of Oregon.

With thanks to the Friends of Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Beth Flint, Vicki Miller and Fabrice Schmitt for information and photographs.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 24 September 2014