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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Reducing seabird bycatch in bottom longline fisheries: more on the Kellian Line Setter

Back in 2012 ACAP Latest News reported on the Kellian Line Setter, an underwater setting device initially developed by New Zealander Dave Kellian to mitigate seabird bycatch in demersal (bottom) longline fisheries (click here).

Sea trials on board a 10-m bottom longliner have been taking place since then as reported earlier this year to the New Zealand Department of Conservation’s Conservation Services Programme.  Trials were conducted off New Zealand and have led to further suggestions for improvement to the device: “[t]he developments outlined … may be best achieved by taking the setter back to the Australian Maritime College where modifications could be made and subsequent performance assessed in the flume tank.  Ideally the setter could then be briefly taken to sea in Australia to confirm that the results from the flume tank can be then be achieved behind a vessel at speeds of 5 ‐ 6 knots.  Further development in the flume tank would also provide the opportunity to fine tune the funnel shape and paravane settings to optimise performance, prior to continuing further sea trials in New Zealand where operational performance and workability of the setter can be assessed under normal fishing conditions.”

Grey Petrel at sea - and at risk to longliners, photograph by Peter Ryan

Reference:.

Baker, G.B., Goad, D., Kiddie, B. & Frost, R. 2014. Kellian Line Setter Sea Trials Initial Performance Testing.  Report prepared for Department of Conservation Contract 4529  [Kettering]: Latitude 42 Environmental Consultants Pty Ltd.  7 pp. 

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 15 August 2014

Brazil produces a guide to rehabilitating albatrosses and petrels

A Brazilian document recently published in Portuguese sets guidelines for the rehabilitation of albatrosses and petrels.

The document Diretrizes Para a Reabilitação de Albatrozes e Petréls (Guidelines for the Rehabilitation of Albatrosses and Petrels) is the first on the subject produced in Brazil, as part of actions of the Brazilian National Action Plan for the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (NPOA) and the National Center for Research and Conservation of Wild Birds (CEMAVE).

The  NGO Projeto Albatroz Brasil collaborated with the preparation of the guidelines which were formulated by experts in bird conservation.

“Because of the low occurrence of these birds in rehabilitation and the fact that they are extremely sensitive species and mostly endangered, the guide is essential to help build capacity to rehabilitate these animals” (translation).

The document includes guidelines for physical structures, use of personal protective equipment, rehabilitation techniques, monitoring, sanitary controls and documentation of cases treated.  In addition, issues such as the release of rehabilitated birds in nature, euthanasia and necropsy are covered.

A Black-browed Albatross seizes a baited hook in South American waters, photograph by Martin Abreu

Click here to read more (in Portuguese).

Reference:

Vanstreels, R.E.T., Saviolli, J.Y., Ruoppolo, V., Hurtado, R., Adornes, A.C., Canabarro, P.L., Pinho, R., Filho, S. & Serafini, P.P. 2014.  Diretrizes Para a Reabilitação de Albatrozes e Petréls.  12 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 14 August 2014

No clear trends in Grey-headed and Campbell Albatrosses at New Zealand’s Campbell Island over the period 2006-2012

Paul Sagar (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand) reported earlier this year to the Department of Conservation’s Conservation Services Programme on population estimates of Grey-headed Thalassarche chrysostoma and Campbell T. impavida Albatrosses at Campbell Island.

The report’s executive summary follows:

“Counts of nests in photographs taken during the period 2006-2012 were compared to those reported for the period 1940s to 1997 by Moore (2004) for grey-headed albatross (Thalassarche chrysostoma) and Campbell albatross (T. impavida) at Campbell Island.  Photographs of known colonies were taken from established long-term photopoints during late October and early November in both 2011 and 2012.  Following downloading to a PC the numbers of apparent occupied nests in specific count areas described in detail by Moore & Blezard (1999) were counted and added to a spreadsheet of counts provided by the Department of Conservation.  Trends in the numbers of the two species of albatross were analysed using the TRIM software, with data inputted separately for colonies dominated by grey-headed albatrosses and Campbell albatrosses.

The results indicated uncertain trends for both species for the period 1995-97 to 2006-2012, with estimated numbers of grey-headed albatrosses showing a non-significant increase and those of Campbell albatrosses a non-significant decrease.  However, with counts in just 1-2 years during the period 2006-2012 and grey-headed albatross being a biennial-breeding species it is probably prudent not to put too great a confidence in the trends until more data are recorded.

Assuming that the proportions of each species have remained similar to those estimated in 1995-97 at all colonies then the total number of annual breeding pairs of grey-headed albatross was estimated at 8,611 pairs and that of Campbell albatrosses at 21,648 pairs for the period 2006-2012.”

A Campbell Albatross preens its chick, photograph by David Evans

Reference:

Sagar, P. 2014.  Population estimates and trends of Campbell and grey-headed albatrosses at Campbell Island.  Christchurch: National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd.  28 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 13 August 2014

Female Southern Giant Petrels on Elephant Island try harder than males when breeding in bad weather

Uwe Horst Schulz (Laboratório de Ecologia de Peixes, Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos, São Leopoldo, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil) and colleagues have published in the Japanese journal Zoological Science on gender differences during breeding by Southern Giant Petrels Macronectes giganteus.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Differences in nest attendance between genders in seabirds may be related to morphological differences.  Southern giant petrel is a dimorphic species with gender-specific foraging behavior.  The objective of this study was to investigate sex-related differences in nest attendance during the breeding period of southern giant petrels by presence/absence patterns of both sexes during incubation and compare use of the colony after nest failure.  Fourteen birds were tagged with digitally coded radio-transmitters in a colony at Elephant Island, Antarctica, in the beginning of 2009/2010 breeding season.  Females were present during 18 periods (min. 3 days, max. 9 days) and males only in five periods (min. 2 days, max. 13 days).  The difference in mean number of radio signals per day between females (4330; s.e. 313.5) and males (2691; s.e. 248.6) was highly significant (t = 4.3; d.f. = 199; P < 0.001; Fig. 4).  As consequence of the severe weather conditions that year, all tagged birds failed to reproduce.  After abandonment of the nests, the presence of both genders decreased drastically, although the tagged individuals stayed in the area.  Under severe weather conditions female Southern Giant Petrels continue breeding while males abandon the nest earlier.”

A Southern Giant Petrel in Antarctica, photograph by Michael Dunn

Reference:

Schulz, U.H., Krüger, L. & Petry, M.V. 2014.  Southern Giant Petrel Macronectes giganteus nest attendance patterns under extreme weather conditions.  Zoological Science: 501-506.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 12 August 2014

Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwater postulated as at risk to oil spills and offshore construction

Alice Jones (The Environment Institute & School of Ocean and Earth Sciences, University of Adelaide, Australia) and colleagues have published open access in the journal Endangered Species Research on the at-sea distribution of the ACAP-listed and Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“We investigated spatio-temporal distribution patterns of the Critically Endangered Balearic shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus in the northern part of its migratory range, using a combination of effort-corrected land- and boat-based survey data (2007-2010).  The species was recorded regularly along the western English Channel (Western Channel) coasts of northwest France and the southwest UK, with peak counts occurring during the summer and autumn months.  Foraging aggregations comprising hundreds to thousands of birds (~1 to 20% of the global population) were recorded in the large shallow embayments of northern Brittany in all survey years.  Elsewhere, most birds were recorded on passage, with maximum birds-per-hour (BPH) of 169 off northwest France and 36 off the southwest UK.  Few birds were recorded offshore, beyond sight of land.  A distance-from-shore analysis revealed that the species passed closer to shore than other pelagic seabirds such as sooty shearwater Puffinus griseus.  A constant-effort seasonal survey from the southwest tip of the UK mainland recorded the species on 93% of survey days, with BPH rates peaking in the morning between 08:00 and 11:00 h.  These results have important monitoring and conservation implications for this Critically Endangered species.  In particular, the records of large aggregations in spatially restricted areas of the Western Channel during the inter-breeding period suggests the species could be vulnerable to impacts such as oil spills, or disturbance from offshore construction projects.  We also provide evidence that some birds remain in the survey area during the breeding season, suggesting it may be an important site for non-breeding birds.”

Balearic Shearwater, photograph by Henri Weimerskirch

Reference:

Jones, A.R., Wynn, R.B., Yésou, P., Thébault, L., Collins, P., Suberg, L., Lewis, K.M. & Brereton,T.M. 2014.  Using integrated land- and boat-based surveys to inform conservation of the Critically Endangered Balearic shearwater.  Endangered Species Research 25:1-18.

For the paper’s supplementary material click here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 11 August 2014