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Northern Royal Albatross Diomedea sanfordi

IUCN Red List Criteria

Critically Endangered  
Endangered A4bc;B2ab(iii,v);D2 
Vulnerable A4bc;B2ab(iii,v) 

IUCN Red List history

Year Category
2013 Endangered
2012 Endangered
2010 Endangered
2008 Endangered
2007 Endangered
2005 Endangered
2004 Endangered
2003 Endangered
2000 Endangered
1994 Not Recognised
1988 Not Recognised

Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type   Average mass -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 17000 medium Estimated 1991
Population trend Decreasing medium -
Number of subpopulations 3 - - -
Largest subpopulation 17000 - - -
Generation length (yrs) 27 - - -
Population justification: The largest population (99%) is on the Chatham Islands, with 1% of the population on Taiaroa Head, on the mainland of South Island, New Zealand. There has not been a successful run of annual photographs over the past 8 years to enable updated estimates of the breeding population of this biennial breeder (C. J. R. Robertson in litt. 2008). However, air photographic counts on the Chatham Islands in the 1970s (1972-1975)and 1990s (1989-1991) recorded a total of 6,500-7,000 total breeding pairs. The number of pairs breeding each year was estimated as 5,200 pairs, based on a count in 1995. This is equivalent to a total population of 17,000 mature individuals. A count in 2002 recorded 5,800 pairs on the Chatham Islands (counted at the end of egg laying), with a probable 1,700 pairs on sabbatical after breeding in the previous season (C. J. R. Robertson in litt. 2008). However, since the estimate of 17,000 mature individuals is based on data from multiple years, this is the estimate used here. It roughly equates to 25,000-26,000 individuals in total. Around.25 pairs breed each year at Taiaroa Head, including five hybrids (descended from cross with female Southern Royal Albatross D. epomophora). Two individuals of D. sanfordi, both breeding with D. epomophora partners, have been recorded on Enderby Island.
Trend justification: Low annual productivity produces a projected population decline in this species. More recent data, from 1995 and 2003, point to a possible recent increase in population, but methods are not sufficiently comparable for any meaningful interpretation regarding population trends, and a very rapid ongoing population decline is precautionarily retained here.

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage Resident
Antarctica Unknown Extant        
Argentina Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Australia Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Bouvet Island (to Norway) Unknown Extant        
Brazil Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Chile Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Native Extant   Yes Yes  
French Southern Territories Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Heard Island and McDonald Islands (to Australia) Native Extant   Yes    
New Zealand Native Extant Yes      
South Africa Native Extant   Yes Yes  
South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands Native Extant   Yes Yes  
St Helena (to UK) Native Extant   Yes    
Uruguay Native Extant   Yes    

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Uruguay Atlantic Ocean and Rio de la Plata mouth site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Grassland Subantarctic major breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic major breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud suitable non-breeding
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) major breeding
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) major non-breeding
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) major breeding
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) major non-breeding
Altitude 0 - 0 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact

Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Biological resource use Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources / Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest] Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Species mortality
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals / Intentional use (species is the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Reduced reproductive success
Climate change & severe weather Storms & flooding Timing Scope Severity Impact
Past, Likely to Return Majority (50-90%) Rapid Declines Past Impact
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Reduced reproductive success
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Species mortality
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases / Common Greenbottle Fly (Lucilia sericata) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Decline Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Reduced reproductive success

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Diomedea sanfordi. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/12/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/12/2014.

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.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Diomedeidae (Albatrosses)
Species name author Murphy, 1917
Population size 17000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) -
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species