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Albatrosses feel the heat

Birds put to work towards their own salvation

Albatrosses with GPS data loggers strapped to their backs or legs are helping to map the surface temperatures of the North Pacific. The devices are attached to Laysan Phoebastria immutabilis and Black-footed Albatrosses Phoebastria nigripes at breeding colonies on Tern Island, in the north-west of the Hawaiian island group, and Guadalupe Island, Baja, Mexico. As well as recording surface temperature when the birds touch down, the devices enable their movements to be tracked to the nearest ten metres.Black-footed Albatross, listed as Vulnerable in 2000, was uplisted to Endangered in 2003. In the same year, Laysan Albatross, formerly of Least Concern, was classified as Vulnerable after information from the northwestern Hawaiian Islands showed declines of at least 30 percent over three generations. Data collected by the initiative, part of the TOPP (Tagging of Pacific Pelagics) project, will be added to the BirdLife International's global albatross tracking database. Dr Cleo Small, BirdLife's International Marine Policy Officer, said that data on albatross and petrel distribution was a very important conservation tool.

She told BBC News, "It allows us to go to the big fisheries commissions and show them where their operations overlap with the seabirds, and then convince them they need to do something to reduce bycatch.”

BirdLife's ‘Save the Albatross’ Campaign is trying to stop the needless slaughter of these magnificent birds by ensuring that relevant international agreements are implemented that will benefit both the birds and the legal fishing industry.

To find out what you can do to help visit our ‘Save the Albatross’ website: http://www.savethealbatross.net

4th July 2014