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Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross Thalassarche carteri
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This species is listed as Endangered on the basis of an estimated very rapid ongoing decline over three generations (71 years), based on data from the population stronghold on Amsterdam Island. This decline is the result of adult mortality and poor recruitment owing to interactions with fisheries and disease.

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.
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.

Taxonomic note
Diomedea chlororhynchos (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into chlororhynchos and carteri and both placed in the genus Thalassarche following Brooke (2004).

76 cm. Smallest, black-and-white albatross. Adult has very pale grey or white head and nape. Dark grey mantle, upperwing and tail. White rump and underparts. White underwing with black tip and narrow margin at leading edge. Black bill with yellow upper ridge, with reddish tip. Juvenile has white head and black bill. Similar spp. Very pale head distinguishes adults from more grey-headed Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross T. chlororhynchos. Juveniles difficult. Separated from other albatrosses by whiter underwing and absence of the thumbmark of Shy Albatross T. cauta, White-capped Albatross T. steadi, Chatham Albatross T. eremita and Salvin's Albatross T. salvini.

Distribution and population
Thalassarche carteri breeds on Amsterdam, Crozet Islands, Kerguelen Islands, and St Paul Islands (French Southern Territories) and on Prince Edward Island (South Africa). In addition, two breeding pairs were recorded on The Pyramid in 2007. Colonies on Amsterdam Island are estimated at c.27,000 pairs breeding per year in 2006 (Rolland et al.  2009). Elsewhere, there were an estimated 7,000 pairs on Prince Edward Island in 2009 (ACAP 2009), 7,030 pairs per year on Crozet Island (ACAP 2007), as well as 50 pairs on Kerguelen (Weimerskirch and Jouventin 1998) and six pairs on St Paul, giving a total of 41,086 pairs per year, equating to c.82,000 mature individuals, and perhaps more than 160,000 individuals of all age classes (Gales 1998). Colonies on Amsterdam Island declined on average by 58% at between 1982 and 1995. The lowest numbers were recorded in 1995, after which some colonies on the island increased or stabilised between 1996 and 2005. The overall trend on Amsterdam is a decline of over 30% between 1982-2006 (Rolland et al. 2009). The population on Prince Edward appears stable: in 2001-2002, 4,170 pairs were counted, representing 7,500 pairs in total once early breeding failures were taken into account (Ryan et al. 2003). However, the figure for Prince Edward Island was recently revised down to 7,000 pairs in 2009 (ACAP 2009).  Decline over three generations is estimated at 51%, assuming a continuing decline at Amsterdam Island and populations elsewhere remaining stable. Outside the breeding season, the species disperses throughout the southern Indian Ocean between 30-50 degrees South, and birds are frequently observed off southern Africa and south-western Australia, extending east to the Tasman Sea and north-eastern New Zealand (Harrison 1983).

Population justification
The total population is estimated at 41,580 pairs per year, equating to 83,160 mature individuals, and perhaps more than 160,000 individuals of all age classes, using the ratios presented by Gales (1998).

Trend justification
Decline over three generations (71 years) was estimated at 51%, assuming a continuing decline at Amsterdam Island since 1982, and that populations elsewhere remained stable. Amsterdam Island data indicated a 30% decline from 1982-2006 (though split into 58% decline 1982-1995 and stable 1996-2005), with all other populations assumed to remain stable. The Amsterdam Island calculations of decline were based on a study plot (over 250 pairs in 1978 to 113 pairs in 2005). The small study plot declined at 3.7% pa 1978-2005, while the whole Amsterdam Island population declined by 1.3% pa 1982-2006; the trend analysis was conducted on the basis of the overall 1.3% decline per year over a 24 year period for Amsterdam Island.

Behaviour It breeds annually, and breeding is either solitarily or in loose groups,. Eggs are laid in September-October and hatch in November-December. Chicks fledge in March-April. It catches prey by surface seizing and shallow diving (ACAP 2009). Diet It feeds mainly on fish and squid, and less frequently on crustaceans (Cherel and Klages 1998, ACAP 2009). Habitat Breeding It breeds on slopes or cliffs, typically in bare, rocky areas but sometimes in tussock-grass and ferns (Brooke 2004). Foraging range Satellite-tracking of birds from Amsterdam Island has shown that breeding birds forage up to 1,500 km from the colony (Pinaud and Weimerskirch 2007).

The Amsterdam population declined due to the outbreak of two diseases in the early 1980s (avian cholera and Erysipelothrix rhusiopathidae) that affect the chicks, and were thought to have be introduced to the island via poultry kept at the French military base. Death of up to 100% of chicks has been recorded in some colonies. The diseases mainly affect young chicks, but adults may also be affected (Weimerskirch 2004). Subsequent declines in numbers at certain colonies could be due to dispersal following failed breeding (Rolland et al. 2009). Interactions with longline fisheries could also account for observed decreases given that up to 600 may be killed annually, comprising mainly adults in the winter months and immatures during the summer fishing season (Gales 1998, Weimerskirch and Jouventin 1998). During the breeding season, it also comes into contact with tuna longliners in subtropical waters (Weimerskirch and Jouventin 1998), and birds (mostly adult males) have been taken by Patagonian toothfish Dissostichus eleginoides longliners in the vicinity of the Prince Edward Islands (Ryan and Boix-Hinzen 1999). However, more data is needed to assess whether longline bycatch is the cause of decline at Amsterdam Island and the Prince Edward Islands (Rolland et al. 2009). Yellow-nosed Albatross species are also killed in pelagic longline fisheries off southern Africa (Ryan et al. 2002), and occasionally in South African trawl fisheries (B. Watkins in litt. (2008). On Amsterdam Island, past habitat destruction by introduced cattle has degraded the breeding sites but fencing of cattle has reduced their impact in recent years (ACAP 2009).

Conservation Actions Underway
ACAP Annex 1. Population monitoring and foraging studies have been undertaken at Amsterdam Island. The Prince Edward Islands are a Special Nature Reserve. Vaccination has been tested, but cannot be carried out at a large scale (Weimerskirch 2004). In 2006, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission adopted a measure to require tuna longline fishing vessels to use a bird streamer line when fishing south of 30 degrees South. South Africa requires its longline vessels to use a range of mitigation measures. Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue to monitor trends at breeding localities, notably Amsterdam, Prince Edward and Crozet Islands. Conduct further research to explore potential for controlling and limiting impact of disease. Conduct further studies of foraging range and interaction with fisheries. Promote adoption of best-practice mitigation measures in all fisheries within the species's range, particularly via intergovernmental mechanisms under auspices of CCAMLR, CMS and FAO.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

ACAP. 2007. ACAP species assessment: Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross. Available at: #

ACAP. 2009. ACAP Species Assessment: Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross Thalassarche carteri. Available at: #

Brooke, M. De L. 2004. Albatrosses and petrels across the world. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Cherel, Y.; Klages, N. 1998. A review of the food of albatrosses. In: Robertson, G.; Gales, G. (ed.), Albatross biology and conservation, pp. 113-136. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, Australia.

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.

Harrison, P. 1985. Seabirds: an identification guide. Christopher Helm, London.

Pinaud, D.; Weimerskirch, H. 2007. At-sea distribution and scale-dependent foraging behaviour of petrels and albatrosses: a comparative study. Journal of Animal Ecology 76: 9-19.

Rolland, V.; Barbraud, C.; Weimenskirch, H. 2009. Assessing the impact of fisheries, climate and disease on the dynamics of the Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross. Biological Conservation 142: 1084-1095.

Ryan, P. G.; Boix-Hinzen, C. 1999. Consistent male-biased seabird mortality in the Patagonian Toothfish longline fishery. The Auk 116: 851-854.

Ryan, P. G.; Cooper, J.; Dyer, B. M.; Underhill, L. G.; Crawford, R. J. M.; Bester, M. N. 2003. Counts of surface-nesting seabirds breeding at Prince Edward Island, Summer 2001/02. African Journal of Marine Science 25(1): 441-451.

Ryan, P. G.; Keith, D. G.; Kroese, M. 2002. Seabird bycatch by tuna longline fisheries off southern Africa, 1998-2000. South African Journal of Marine Science 24: 103.

Weimerskirch, H. 2004. Diseases threaten Southern Ocean albatrosses. Polar Biology 27: 374-379.

Weimerskirch, H.; Jouventin, P. 1998. Changes in population sizes and demographic parameters of six albatross species breeding on the French sub-antarctic islands. In: Robertson, G.; Gales, R. (ed.), Albatross biology and conservation, pp. 84-91. Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton, Australia.

Further web sources of information
Additional information is available on the distribution of the Indian Yellow-nosed 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
Anderson, O., Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Small, C., Sullivan, B., Symes, A.

Cooper, J., Crawford, R., Croxall, J., Robertson, C., Ryan, P.G., Weimerskirsch, H.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Thalassarche carteri. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

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.

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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 - Indian yellow-nosed albatross (Thalassarche carteri) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Diomedeidae (Albatrosses)
Species name author (Rothschild, 1903)
Population size 83160 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,400 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species