Foraging range and habitat associations of non‑breeding Tristan albatrosses: overlap with fisheries and implications for conservation
The Tristan albatross Diomedea dabbanena is Critically Endangered: >99% of adults breed at Gough Island, central South Atlantic Ocean, where chicks are threatened by introduced predators. At sea they mostly remain within the South Atlantic Ocean, where they are threatened by incidental capture in longline fisheries. Conservation measures to reduce seabird mortality in pelagic longline fisheries are confined largely to fishing effort south of 25°S. This covers the core range of breeding Tristan albatrosses, but the distribution of non-breeding adults and immature birds is unknown. We tracked 14 non-breeding adult Tristan albatrosses from Gough Island for up to 3 yr, from 2004 to 2006, using geolocating loggers. All birds remained in the South Atlantic or southern Indian Oceans, and showed distributions centred on the Sub-Tropical Convergence. They used the SW Atlantic during the austral summer and the SE Atlantic and Indian Oceans as far east as Australia during the austral winter. Foraging effort was concentrated in areas of upwelling and increased productivity. The distribution of the tracked birds overlapped with a range of pelagic longline fisheries, especially off southern Africa. Of particular concern was that 2 birds spent several months off the coast of Namibia and in adjacent high seas north of 25°S, where there are currently no regulations to prevent seabird bycatch during pelagic longline fishing operations.
Authors: Reid, Timothy A., Wanless, Ross M., Hilton, Geoff M., Phillips, Richard A., Ryan, Peter G.