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Not So Shy Albatross

Money raised for albatross conservation

Albatrosses cross the finish line

Around ?15,000 (c. US$27,000) is expected to have been raised from punters betting on the Ladbrokes.com Big Bird Race, an innovative project combining serious scientific research, awareness-raising, fundraising and light-hearted gambling. The winning Shy Albatross was Aphrodite, sponsored by celebrity Jerry Hall. Despite a missing period when commentators feared the worst, Aphrodite stormed back Lazarus-like to triumph. In second place (with Ladbrokes also honouring with winning payouts) was Xanadu, aptly sponsored by Nicholas Coleridge, the great, great, great, great, great grandson of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who immortalised the birds in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. However, there was a downside to the race that could well illustrate the threats these magnificent seabirds face from longline fishing. The signals of many of the transmitters that were being used to monitor the movements of the birds inexplicably stopped. This could mean that the birds had died and been dragged underwater on the end of a longline hook ? sharing the fate of an estimated 300,000 albatrosses every year. However, with luck it could simply be that the transmitters were simply not robust enough to cope with the challenging conditions of the Southern Oceans, and that these juvenile birds will return to their home islands to breed in a few years time. Antarctic tourists help seabirds

For the past three years eco-tourists visiting the Antarctic have been contributing towards BirdLife`s Save the Albatross campaign. Since 2001, The International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) has presented a lecture and film to passengers on wildlife cruises to the region, entitled Seabird conservation in fisheries. The purpose of the lecture is to raise awareness of the threats seabirds face in fisheries operating in the southern hemisphere and to raise funds for conservation initiatives. In the 2003/04 season 17 ships operated by companies co-ordinated by IAATO presented the albatross lecture and film to their passengers and a total of US$35,000 was generously donated. Birds Australia (BirdLife in Australia) will now oversee the allocation of these funds to seabird projects as part of BirdLife`s campaign.

4th July 2014