Save the Albatross

19 12 2008
Waved Albatross - Luke Tiller

Waved Albatross - Luke Tiller

This June I was lucky enough to have traveled to the Galapagos as a leader with Sunrise Birding, whilst there we got to have the most amazing audience with Waved Albatrosses. I remember vividly the absolute awe and excitement they engendered as they greeted us off of Espanola Island (trip report). Participants on this years Sunrise Birding trip to Alaska were lucky enough to encounter 3 different species of these magnificent birds on the trip including the Short-tailed Albatross (picture here) one of the most threatened birds on the planet, which are currently at about 300 breeding pairs (an actual improvement from a point where it was literally on the brink of extinction).

The sad thing is that this wonderful family of birds are amongst the most threatened on the planet. These long lived birds face a number of threats to their continued survival. The main threats have been the introduction, both deliberately in the case of the Galapagos and accidentally in the case of Gough Island amongst others (see recent story on Tristan Albatross here), of non-native mammals that destroy nests and chicks. Habitat destruction is also a common issue but by far the most important current threat to these birds is the terrible losses caused by long-line fishing.

It is estimated that 100,000 Albatrosses are killed each year by long-line fisheries, amongst huge numbers of other seabirds. There is a solution however, and Birdlife International are working with their global partners to get their recommendations followed up on.  The  ‘Save the Albatross’ site has loads of great information on the various species as well as interesting facts and ways to get involved in the campaign. It’s important to make other birders aware of this sad situation and do what you can to make sure that these birds are there to be enjoyed by coming generations (warning, some of the pictures on the site are a little distressing). Perhaps we need an albatross free tuna campaign?

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