Albatross study provides new information vital to their conservation

01/11/05

Albatrosses are the world's most threatened family of birds. New research offers the first hope of identifying migration and feeding patterns to reduce their unnecessary slaughter by long-line fisheries. The study is reported in the journal Science, and outlines, for the first time, the year-round habitat of the grey-headed albatross.

Leading author Professor John Croxall from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) said, "By understanding where these birds go when they're not breeding, we can brief governments and fisheries commissions to impose much stricter measures capable of reducing the number of birds killed by 75-95%, depending on the type of fishery".

By attaching tiny logging devices (geo-locators) to the bird's leg for 18 months or more, scientists at BAS found that most birds travelled from their breeding site 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.

"Knowing where the albatrosses will interact with fishing vessels provides governments and fisheries commissions with accurate information to stop the killing of these charismatic birds. The right combination of measures will drastically reduce deaths."

Source: Eurekalert & others

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