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 Nederlandse Zeevogelgroep (Dutch Seabird Group) endorses World Albatross Day on 19 June

 NZG

The Nederlandse Zeevogelgroep (NZG, Dutch Seabird Group) is the fourth of the world’s seabird groups to endorse this year’s inaugural World Albatross Day on 19 June.  It follows support from the Australasian, Pacific and the United Kingdom’s Seabird Groups

The NZG was founded in 1991 as a branch of the Nederlandse Ornithologische Unie.  The group aims to: “Encourage seabird research by interested parties and professionals together, through the exchange of information, coordination of activities, and organizing meetings.”

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Susanne Kühn, Secretary, Nederlandse Zeevogelgroep in her laboratory

Susanne Kühn, Secretary of the Dutch Seabird Group writes to ACAP Latest News: “Although we live in Holland - a long way from any albatross colony, we strongly endorse any effort to save these iconic birds.  The yearly World Albatross Day is a great platform to let the world know about albatross problems – and solutions!”

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Albatrosses off Stewart Island, New Zealand, 2017, photograph by Susanne Kühn

With thanks to Susanne Kühn, Secretary, Nederlandse Zeevogelgroep and Jan van Franeker.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 10 June 2020

South Africa’s Dyer Island Conservation Trust says World Albatross Day “will highlight these incredible species”

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The Dyer Island Conservation Trust, based in Gansbaai, South Africa and started in 2006, delivers conservation and research programmes to protect the biodiversity of the marine ecosystem surrounding nearby Dyer Island, a provincial nature reserve, with a focus on the now Endangered African Penguin Spheniscus demersus.  Its key projects include an artificial nest project to improve penguin breeding success and a rehabilitation facility for seabirds that opened in 2015 – the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary.

Founder of the Trust, Wilfred Chivell, writes to ACAP Latest News: “We are committed to rebuilding the population of African Penguins on Dyer Island.  We have also had the honour to care for quite a number of albatrosses through the years and we hope they will be part of creating future generations.  The three species we have rehabilitated have been Black-browed Thalassarche melanophris, Indian Yellow-nosed T. carteri and Shy T. cauta Albatrosses.

Wilfred Chivell 

Wilfred Chivell, Chief Executive Officer, Dyer Island Conservation Trust with Black-browed Albatrosses on Steeple Jason in the South Atlantic

Founder of the Trust, Wilfred Chivell, has travelled the globe to see various species of albatross with his favourites he says being the Wandering Diomedea exulans and Campbell T. impavida Albatrosses.  He is fascinated by their migrations and their long life spans, and shares the species seen off the South African shores with like-minded birders, when out on one of the pelagic tours he offers through his company Dyer Island Cruises, sister company to Marine Dynamics. He writes:

“World Albatross Day will help highlight these incredible species and most importantly the threats they face.  I have been most impressed with the efforts to preserve the albatrosses of South Georgia [Islas Georgias del Sur]* and the sub Antarctic islands of New Zealand.  I am also grateful to BirdLife International for its efforts in addressing the impacts of trawlers.”

With thanks to Wilfred Chivell, Chief Executive Officer, Dyer Island Conservation Trust.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 10 June 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.

Kauai Humane Society’s Save Our Shearwaters will celebrate World Albatross Day this month

Save our Shearwaters

Save Our Shearwaters is located within the Kauai Humane Society on the Hawaiian island of Kaua‘i and rehabilitates native Hawaiian birds.

“Initiated by the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources/Division of Forestry and Wildlife in 1979 to respond to the annual grounding of hundreds of light-attracted fledgling shearwaters and petrels.  Since Save Our Shearwaters was created in 1979, volunteers and residents have collected more 35,000 seabirds - 90 percent of which recovered and were released back to the wild.  The majority of the seabirds collected through the program are members of state and federally listed endangered species.  In the past, up to 2,000 Newell’s Shearwaters [Puffinus newelli; globally Critically Endangered] — mostly juveniles — have been picked up during the annual fledgling season through the SOS program.”

 

A Newell’s Shearwater fledgling gets released, photograph by Elizabeth Ames

“Save Our Shearwaters works with the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Project to put satellite tags on fledgling Newell's Shearwaters during fallout season.  The first batch of Newell's Shearwaters were tagged in 2014.  Since then, we have continued to work together to tag birds from 2016 - 2019.  The data collected helps to reveal where these fledgling Newell's Shearwaters travel when they head out to the ocean for the first time.”

Read more on Save our Shearwater’s contributions to research on Newell’s Shearwaters and on globally Endangered Hawaiian Petrels Pterodroma sandwichensis here.

 Molly Bache

Save Our Shearwaters Program Coordinator, Molly Bache

Save Our Shearwaters Program Coordinator, Molly Bache writes to ACAP Latest News: “Save Our Shearwaters is proud to support World Albatross Day.  We are delighted to celebrate these magnificent seabirds and help raise awareness of the difficult future they face.  We rehabilitate Mōlī (Laysan Albatross [Phoebastria immutabilis]) in need and often witness the direct effects of plastic pollution, predation, and habitat loss.  Events like World Albatross Day are important to routinely bring these issues to light and inspire action through species education.”

Save Our Shearwaters joins a number of other environmental NGOs and similar bodies across the Hawaiian Islands in supporting the inaugural World Albatross Day on 19 June.  Mahalo!

With thanks to Molly Bache, Program Coordinator, Save Our Shearwaters, Kauai Humane Society

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 09 June 2020

Conserving albatrosses and other seabirds on Mexican islands

A breeding Laysan Albatross pair on Mexico's Clarion Island, photograph by Ross Wanless

Yuri Albores Barajas (CONACYT, Mexico City, Mexico) and colleagues have published open access in the journal Waterbirds on the conservation of Mexican seabirds, inc luding Black-footed Phoebastria nigripes and Laysan P. immutabilis albatrosses that breed on several of the country’s offshore islands.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“In Northwestern Mexico, approximately 40 breeding species of seabirds have been reported, with several threats (e.g., invasive species introduction and habitat loss) affecting the viability of their populations. As such, it is necessary to take action for their protection. To prioritize conservation activities, 119 reports (governamental [sic] agency monitoring programs, grey literature, and scientific literature) were analyzed for research and monitoring results from 1922-2018 (93 of 119 published after 1990) and ranked the different islands (91 sites, including archipelagos with multiple islands) based on their breeding seabird communities (35 species in 11 seabird families, including 7 endemic breeders). For the ranking exercise, three criteria were considered: conservation category, preferred habitat, and foraging guild for each species. Taking into consideration the breeding species on each island, an index to rank the islands was created. Ten islands or archipelagos have high conservation priority (index score > 10 = high priority; mean index = 4.7, median = 5.0, max = 17.9, n = 91), and the most important are: Revillagigedo and San Benito archipelagos, Coronado, San Lorenzo, and Natividad Islands. It is necessary to use new tools and techniques to determine populations' sizes and trends and to create a baseline to compare with future studies. Furthermore, many of the species breeding or feeding in the Mexican Economic Exclusive Zone migrate to other latitudes, elevating the conservation problem to an international scale.”

Reference:

Albores Barajas, Y., de la Cueva, H., Soldatini, C., Carmona, R., Ayala Pérez, V., Martinez-Gómez, J. & Velarde, E. 2020.  Challenges and priorities for seabird conservation in northwestern Mexico.  Waterbirds 43(1).  doi.org/10.1675/063.043.0101.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 09 June 2020

Hawaii’s Molokai Land Trust works to create a new Laysan Albatross colony – and offers its support for World Albatross Day

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Molokai (260 km²) is the fifth largest of the “high” eastern islands in the Hawaiian Archipelago, along with the larger and more well-known islands of Hawaii, Kauai, Maui and Oahu.  The Molokai Land Trust has as its mission “ to protect and restore the land, natural and cultural resources of Moloka’i, and to perpetuate the unique Native Hawaiian traditions and character of the islands for the benefit of the future generations of all Moloka’i, particularly Native Hawaiians”.

 

Along with other organizations the trust is working towards creating a new breeding colony of globally Near Threatened Laysan Albatross Phoebastria immutabilis on Molokai, utilizing decoys, broadcasting of calls and by erecting a predator-proof fence.  Such colonies are regarded as “insurance” against the risks albatrosses face on the low-lowing atolls in the North-Western Hawaiian islands from climate-changed sea level rise and an increased incidence of storm surges.

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Butch Haase, Executive Director, Molokai Land Trust

Following reaching out, ACAP Latest News has heard from William "Butch" Haase, Executive Director of the Molokai Land Trust in support of this year’s inaugural World Albatross Day:

"Molokai Land Trust is proud to support World Albatross Day coming up on June 19th.  We have been working hard to create suitable protected habitat to support a Laysan Albatross nesting colony on the island of Molokai, Hawaii.  We are looking to expand the project to 90 acres [36 ha] within a new predator-proof fence in the upcoming year with our partners American Bird Conservancy and the US Fish & Wildlife Service Coastal Program, Pacific Islands Area Office.”

The Molokai Land Trust is one of number of environmental NGOs working to improve the conservation status of albatrosses and other seabirds on the Hawaiian Islands from Kure in the west to Hawaii (“Big Island”) in the east.  Pleasingly, many of them have already offered their support for ‘WAD2020’, as reflected in these pages.

With thanks to Butch Haase, Executive Director, Molokai Land Trust.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 08 June 2020