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BirdLife International Study Gives Hope for Albatrosses

A new study has identified the year-round habitat of the Grey-headed Albatross Thalassarche chrysostoma. This research offers further hope of reducing the unnecessary slaughter of this and other albatross species by long-line fisheries. By attaching tiny logging devices (geo-locators) to the birds` legs and monitoring their movements over a period of 18 months or more, scientists from the British Antarctic Survey found that most birds travelled from their breeding sites off the coast of South Georgia to areas of the southwest Indian Ocean. Over half then made amazing round-the-world journeys ? the fastest in just 46 days.

Before this study, published today in the journal Science, there was little firm knowledge of where Grey-headed Albatrosses spend the winter ? just a few reports of birds being found with leg rings in the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean. The researchers were surprised to find that Grey-headed Albatrosses travelled so far and stayed out in the high seas so long. With over half the studied birds making global circumnavigations, the species may prove to be the most migratory member of this very well-travelled family.Knowing where the albatrosses will interact with fishing vessels provides governments and fisheries with accurate information to stop the killing of these charismatic birds. The right combination of measures will drastically reduce deaths. said leading author Professor John Croxall from the British Antarctic Survey and a member of BirdLife`s seabirds advisory panel said, By understanding where these birds go when they`re not breeding, we can brief governments and fisheries to impose much stricter measures capable of reducing the number of birds killed by 75-95%, depending on the type of fishery.

Satellite tracking data for another 16 species of albatross and three petrel species, all of them endangered by longline fishing, was collated by BirdLife in its groundbreaking 2004 publication Tracking Ocean Wanderers.

Many of the 14 Albatross species are among the most endangered birds in the world.

4th July 2014