Tracking Ocean Wanderers
Hot spots for cool birds
The BirdLife International report Tracking Ocean Wanderers highlights crucial areas for the conservation of albatrosses across the world’s oceans.
Key findings include:
- The importance of highly productive oceanic regions such as the Humboldt Current, the Patagonian Shelf, the Antarctic Polar Frontal Zone, and the Benguela Current. These are areas where the upwelling of cold ocean currents results in rich feeding grounds for albatrosses as well as fish and other marine species
- The importance of coastal and shelf areas for albatrosses while they are feeding young chicks.
- The overlap between the distribution of albatrosses and areas of longline fishing. More than 300,000 seabirds, including 100,000 albatrosses, die as bycatch at the hands of longline fleets every year. This has left all 21 albatross species under global threat of extinction
- The huge distances travelled on migration by some species; the Northern Royal Albatross flies up to 1,800 kilometres in 24 hours and the Grey-headed Albatross can circle the globe in 46 days.
The report is the result of a unique collaboration between scientists worldwide and includes over 90% of the world’s existing albatross satellite-tracking data. The database thus established represents a vital tool for the conservation of these species. Data holders have established a protocol for access to and sharing of the database, which is held and managed by BirdLife International.
Distribution of albatross and petrel satellite tracking points that were submitted to the database by scientists worldwide
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, a keen advocate of the continuing campaign to protect the albatross has sent a letter of support for the project.
In the letter, The Prince says: "I simply refuse to accept that these remarkable birds should be allowed to slide quietly into extinction, and particularly not when the damage is entirely man-made and easily preventable."
Commenting directly on the report, The Prince continues: "It brings together real data for the first time to show us where these gravely threatened birds are roving the oceans, enabling us to identify where they are most vulnerable and to safeguard their critical habitat."
Tracking Ocean Wanderers was launched in November 2004 at the first meeting of the parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), in Tasmania, Australia.
John Croxall, Head of Conservation Biology, British Antarctic Survey (and also Chair of BirdLife’s Global Seabird Programme) said: "The data, and the results presented in this report, will be of immense assistance in developing the work of the new ACAP."
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