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Antipodean Albatross Diomedea antipodensis
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This species is classified as Vulnerable because it is largely confined to three small islands when breeding and is therefore highly susceptible to stochastic effects and human impacts. Recent data (2005-2008) from the Auckland Islands indicate declines in adult survival, productivity and recruitment, which, if confirmed by further monitoring, could result in a reclassification of Endangered or Critically Endangered.

Taxonomic source(s)
Brooke, M. de L. 2004. Albatrosses and Petrels Across the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note
Diomedea exulans (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into D. exulans, D. dabbenena and D. antipodensis following Brooke (2004), contra Robertson and Nunn (1998) who split antipodensis into two taxa

110 cm. Huge albatross breeding in mixed white and brownish plumage. Juvenile very similar to juvenile Wandering Albatross D. exulans. Birds breeding on Auckland Island (subspecies D. a. gibsoni) are generally paler than those on Antipodes, Chatham and Campbell Islands (subspecies D. a. antipodensis). Breeding females have chocolate-brown upperparts with white vermiculations on back, white face mask and throat, white lower breast and belly with brown undertail-coverts, and white underwing with dark tip. Breeding females of D. a. antipodensis have broad brown breast-band. Breeding males are whiter than females but never as white as whitest Wandering Albatross. Pink bill. Males of D. a. antipodensis may be distinguished from D. a. gibsoni by darker cap and tail, and less white on the humeral flexure. Similar spp. Wandering Albatross is significantly larger, but possibly not separable with certainty in field. Bill lacks dark marks of Amsterdam Albatross D. amsterdamensis.

Distribution and population
Diomedea antipodensis is endemic to New Zealand, breeding on Antipodes Island (4,565 breeding pairs annually between 2007 and 2009 [ACAP 2009]), the Auckland Islands group (Adams, Disappointment and Auckland), where four counts from 2006 to 2009 indicated a mean annual breeding population of 3,277 pairs (ACAP 2009), Campbell Island (c.10 pairs [Gales 1998]), and Pitt Island in the Chatham Islands (one pair since 2004) (Miskelly et al. 2008). The total average annual breeding population of 8,050 pairs on all islands gives an estimated population of 44,500 mature individuals in 2009 (ACAP 2009). Data from satellite tracking indicate that birds from the Auckland Islands forage mostly west of New Zealand over the Tasman Sea and south of Australia, while those from the Antipodes forage east of New Zealand in the South Pacific, as far as the coast of Chile, and have a larger overall range (Medway 1993, Taylor 2000, Walker and Elliot 2006).

Population justification
ACAP (2009).

Trend justification
The most recent studies (Elliot and Walker in litt. 2007) indicate breeding success has declined since 1991, and in 2006 was the lowest ever recorded (25%). Adult survival in 2005 and 2006 was also the lowest ever recorded. The number of breeding birds on the Antipodes Islands has reduced by 6.1% per annum between 2005 and 2008. The total Auckland Islands breeding population has decreased by roughly 40% between counts in 1997 and 2009. The overall rate of decline, however, has not been estimated.

Behaviour Eggs are laid between late December and late January on the Auckland Islands, and between early January and early February on the Antipodes Islands. Hatching takes place between March and April, and chicks fledge after nine months departing in mid-December to early March (ACAP 2009). Breeding is biennial if chicks are successfully reared (Gales 1998). Fledglings do not return earlier than the age of three years old, and the youngest age of first breeding is seven years for Antipodes Island birds and eight years old for Auckland Islands birds (ACAP 2009). Between 1991 and 2004, average productivity was 74% on Antipodes Island and significantly lower (63%) on the Auckland Islands (Elliot and Walker 2005). Foraging was most concentrated over pelagic waters and deep shelf slope (up to 6000 m), with peaks of activity at 1000 m corresponding to seamounts and shelf breaks where productivity is high. Foraging trips are longer during incubation (7-13 days) than chick-rearing (average 4 days) (ACAP 2009). Breeders and non-breeders have similar core foraging areas, though non-breeding juvenile males from the Antipodes Islands migrate east to the waters off Chile, and non-breeding juvenile males and females from the Auckland Islands forage westward to the south-eastern Indian Ocean (ACAP 2009). Habitat Breeding It nests from the coastline inland, on ridges, slopes and plateaus, usually in open or patchy vegetation, such as tussock grassland or shrubs. Diet It feeds mostly on cephalopods and fish (ACAP 2009).

Between 1987 and 2003, this species was a significant bycatch in the longline tuna fishery in New Zealand waters. The capture of 58 birds in 2006 during a single fishing trip was a reminder that bycatch remains a threat, with significant mortality also occuring in the Chilean pelagic longline swordfish fishery (ACAP 2009). Foraging areas of the species also overlaps with the Australian Eastern Tuna and Billfish fisheries, and with the Korean and Taiwanese fleets in the Central Pacific which mostly target albacore tuna. However, seabird bycatch information for these distant-water pelagic fleets is poor (ACAP 2009). Female survival on the Auckland Islands is lower than for males (Walker and Elliot 1999). In 2005 and 2006, female annual survival was as low as 80%, eight percent below male survival. This may be because females disperse further north than the males (Walker et al. 1995), increasing their chance of interacting with longline fisheries in Australian and New Zealand waters. Recent studies indicate that increasing ocean temperature in the Tasman Sea could be having a negative impact on D. a. gibsoni, although this needs further investigation (Elliot and Walker in litt. 2007). Pigs may be responsible for the near extirpation of the species on Auckland Island, and probably still take eggs and chicks, while feral cats may also kill some chicks (Taylor 2000). Introduced house mice Mus musclus on the Antipodes Islands do not appear to pose a threat to the species (ACAP 2009).

Conservation Actions Underway
ACAP Annex 1. Conservation efforts began in 1969, when the breeding population was first estimated on Antipodes. Many thousands of chicks have been banded, both on Antipodes and Adams Islands. Satellite tracking has identified foraging and non-breeding distribution (Walker and Elliot 2006). By 1992, cattle and sheep had been eradicated from Campbell Island (Taylor 2000). All islands are nature reserves and, in 1998, were declared part of a World Heritage Site. Conservation Actions Proposed
Census total breeding population for 3-4 consecutive years at 10-year intervals. Monitor productivity, survival and recruitment. Check all birds for bands during censuses for survival and recruitment measures. Monitor new fisheries for bycatch. Continue to develop mitigation devices/techniques to minimise fisheries bycatch. Eradicate pigs and cats from Auckland Island (Taylor 2000). Further investigate the impact that oceanographic changes in the Tasman Sea may be having on D. a. gibsoni. Obtain seabird bycatch information for distant-water pelagic fleets in the Pacific.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

ACAP. 2009. ACAP Species Assessment: Antipodean Albatross Diomedea antipodensis. Available at: #

Burg, T. M.; Croxall, J. P. 2000. Global population structure in the Wandering Albatross complex: implications for taxonomy.

Croxall, J. P.; Gales, R. 1998. Assessment of the conservation status of albatrosses. In: Robertson, G.; Gales, R. (ed.), Albatross biology and conservation, pp. 46-65. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, Australia.

Elliot, G. and Walker, K. 2005. Detecting population trends of Gibson's and Antipodean wandering albatrosses. Notornis 52: 215-222.

Gales, R. 1998. Albatross populations: status and threats. In: Robertson, G.; Gales, R. (ed.), Albatross biology and conservation, pp. 20-45. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, Australia.

Marchant, S.; Higgins, P. J. 1990. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds, 1: ratites to ducks. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Medway, D. G. 1993. The identity of the Chocolate Albatross Diomedea spadicea of Gmelin, 1789, and of the Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans of Linnaeus, 1758. Notornis 40: 145-162.

Miskelly, C. M.; McNally, N.; Seymour, R.; Gregory-Hunt, D.; Lanauze, J. 2008. Antipodean Wandering Albatrosses (Diomedea antipodensis) colonising the Chatham Islands. Notornis 55(2): 89-95.

Nicholls, D. G.; Robertson, C. J. R.; Prince, P. A.; Murray, M. D.; Walker, K. J.; Elliott, G. P. 2002. Foraging niches of three Diomedea albatrosses. Marine Ecology Progress Series 231: 269.

Nunn, G. B.; Stanley, S. E. 1998. Body size effects and rates of cytochrome-b evolution in tube-nosed seabirds. Molecular Biology and Evolution 15(10): 1360-1371.

Robertson, C. J. R.; Nunn, G. B. 1998. Towards a new taxonomy for albatrosses. In: Robertson, G.; Gales, R. (ed.), Albatross biology and conservation, pp. 13-19. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, Australia.

Robertson, C. J. R.; Warham, J. 1992. Nomenclature of the New Zealand Wandering Albatrosses (Diomedea exulans). Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 112: 74-81.

Taylor, G. A. 2000. Action plan for seabird conservation in New Zealand. Department of Conservation, Wellington.

Walker, K. & G. Elliott. 2005. Population changes and biology of the Antipodean wandering albatross (Diomedea antipodensis). Notornis. 52: 206-214.

Walker, K. & G. Elliott. 2006. At-sea distribution of Gibson's and Antipodean wandering albatrosses, and relationships with longline fisheries. Notornis. 53: 265-290.

Walker, K.; Elliott, G. 1999. Population changes and biology of the Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans gibsoni at the Auckland Islands. Emu 99: 239-247.

Walker, K.; Elliott, G.; Nicholls, D.; Murray, D.; Dilks, P. 1995. Satellite tracking of Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans) from the Auckland Islands: preliminary results. Notornis 42: 127-137.

Further web sources of information
Additional information is available on the distribution of the Antipodean Albatross from the Global Procellariiform Tracking Database (

Australian Govt - Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000 - Recovery Outline

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Small, C., Sullivan, B.

Robertson, C., Stahl, J.-C., Taylor, G., Walker, K.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Diomedea antipodensis. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Antipodean albatross (Diomedea antipodensis)

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Diomedeidae (Albatrosses)
Species name author Robertson & Warham, 1992
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 670 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species