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National recovery plan for Albatrosses and Giant-petrels

Wildlife Scientific Advice, Natural Heritage Division
Environment Australia, October 2001

Note:This publication has been superseded by the National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011—2016

3. Species foraging, but not breeding, within areas under Australian jurisdiction

This section briefly describes the breeding and non-breeding distributions, breeding biology and population status of each of the sixteen albatross species (potentially) foraging but not breeding within the Australian Fishing Zone.

Sixteen species of albatross forage (or potentially forage) within areas under Australian jurisdiction without breeding on Australian territory. These are:

3.1 Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena Matthews, 1929

Previous name

Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans dabbenena

Current breeding locations and jurisdiction
Jurisdiction Breeding locality
United Kingdom Inaccessible Island (Tristan da Cunha Islands), Gough Island

Endemic to territories of United Kingdom

Protection status
Jurisdiction Protection status
International Endangered
CMS Appendices Listed
National EPBC Act Endangered
Action Plan for Australian Birds Endangered

Distribution

The at-sea distribution of this newly distinguished species is yet to be defined. Tristan Albatrosses appear to wander widely from their sub-Antarctic breeding islands within the South Atlantic Ocean to 35 S (Marchant and Higgins 1990; del Hoyo et al. 1992). They are rarely observed in the Pacific or Indian Oceans. The only Australian record of this species is from a recapture off Wollongong (NSW) in September 1997. The bird had been banded as a chick on Gough Island four years prior (Leishman 1998a; L. Smith pers. comm.).

Breeding biology

There are no published accounts of the breeding biology of Tristan Albatrosses. They breed biennially when successful. Pairs return to the nest site in early December and most eggs are laid between late December and February. The chick fledges the following November to February.

Global population status

Tristan Albatrosses once bred on the main island of the Tristan Group but were extirpated by humans by 1907 (Watkins 1987). Several hundred pairs formerly bred on Inaccessible Island. However, predation by introduced pigs devastated the colony, and by the 1940s only two or three pairs remained. This tiny population has not increased since (Ryan et al. 1990).

The only other breeding population is at Gough Island, where there are estimated to be fewer than 2,000 breeding pairs remaining, with less than 1,000 pairs breeding in any one year. Thus, the global population totals 6,000-7,000 birds. This figure, however, is derived from a crude estimate made in the 1980s, and the current status remains unknown (J. Cooper pers. comm., in Gales 1998). Given the trend of other albatross populations in the Indian Ocean this population has quite possibly decreased over the last two decades (Gales 1998).

3.2 Antipodean Albatross Diomedea antipodensis

Previous name

Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans antipodensis

Current breeding locations and jurisdiction
Jurisdiction Breeding locality
New Zealand Antipodes Island, Campbell Island

Endemic to New Zealand

Protection status
Jurisdiction Protection status
International Vulnerable
CMS Appendices Listed
National EPBC Act Vulnerable
Action Plan for Australian Birds Vulnerable

Distribution

Very little detail is known of this newly distinguished species. It is most often encountered in the Tasman Sea and south-west Pacific (Marchant and Higgins 1990). Satellite tracking of just one bird indicates that they can fly great distances. The individual male in the study flew 8,000km to Chile in 17 days (Nicholls et al. 1996, 2000).

Breeding biology

The Antipodean Albatross is a biennial breeder, when successful. Nests are built in very loose colonies (26 nests per 10,000m2: Warham and Bell 1979, in Marchant and Higgins 1990). Females lay from January at Antipodes Island and February at Campbell Island. Chicks fledge between January and March the following year (Robertson 1985).

Global population status

The annual breeding population is estimated at 5,150 pairs, denoting a global population of 33,000 individuals. Only about six pairs nest on Campbell Island each year, with the vast majority of the population breeding on Antipodes Island. The Campbell Island population has been stable at low numbers for at least three decades. A lack of comparable data prior to 1994 precludes any assessment of the status of the Antipodes Island population (K. Walker pers. comm., in Gales 1998).

3.3 Gibson's Albatross Diomedea gibsoni

Previous name

Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans gibsoni

Current breeding locations and jurisdiction
Jurisdiction Breeding locality
New Zealand Auckland Islands

Endemic to New Zealand

Protection status
Jurisdiction Protection status
International Vulnerable
CMS Appendices Listed
National EPBC Act Vulnerable
Action Plan for Australian Birds Vulnerable

Distribution

The distribution of Gibson's Albatross is poorly known. Breeding at the Auckland Islands, it forages widely within the Tasman Sea and South Pacific Ocean (Walker et al. 1995; Nicholls et al. 2000). Males and females appear to utilise different foraging areas. The females tend to frequent the Tasman Sea in the vicinity of 40S, while the males either disperse westwards at lower latitudes or travel north-east towards the mid-Pacific Ocean (Elliot et al. 1995). Individuals also occur offshore in south-east Australian waters from Coff's Harbour in the north to Wilson's Promontory in the south (Marchant and Higgins 1990).

Breeding biology

Gibson's Albatross breeds biennially. Pairs begin returning to the Auckland Islands from December. Females usually lay between late December and early January. The egg is incubated for 80 days before it hatches in late March (Bailey and Sorensen 1962, in Marchant and Higgins 1990). Satellite tracking has shown that breeding adults often forage in the Tasman Sea some 1,000-1,500km from the nesting site (Walker et al. 1995). The chick fledges the following year between January and February (Bailey and Sorensen 1962, in Marchant and Higgins 1990). Breeding success was 64% during the 1989-90 breeding season (P. Dilks pers. comm., in Gales 1993).

Global population status

About 6,200 pairs of Gibson's Albatrosses breed each year. This translates to around 10,000 breeding pairs and 40,000 individuals in total. Gibson's Albatrosses breed on three islands within the New Zealand sub-Antarctic Auckland Island group. At Auckland Island itself only 65 pairs breed annually, while 250 pairs breed each year at Disappointment Island. The other 5,800 pairs breed on Adams Island. This population was estimated as being 13,000 pairs in the 1970s, however, this was a loose estimate only, so it is uncertain if it represents an accurate measure of the decrease in the population (K. Walker pers. comm., in Gales 1998). Annual surveys conducted during the 1990s should clarify the current population status for this species.

3.4 Northern Royal Albatross Diomedea sanfordi Murphy 1917

Previous name

Northern Royal Albatross Diomedea epomophora sanfordi

Current breeding locations and jurisdiction
Jurisdiction Breeding locality
New Zealand Chatham Islands, South Island (Taiaroa Head)

Endemic to New Zealand

Protection status
Jurisdiction Protection status
International Endangered
CMS Appendices Listed
National EPBC Act Endangered
Action Plan for Australian Birds Endangered

Distribution

Northern Royal Albatrosses range widely over the Southern Ocean from 36 S to at least 52 S, though they are rarely south of 49 S. Individuals disperse to the south west Atlantic off Argentina, the eastern South Pacific near Chile, the southern Indian Ocean and south-east Australia. Adult birds from South Island were recovered in the south-west Atlantic after successful breeding, indicating that they undertake long-range migrations between successive breeding seasons. Immature birds are also highly dispersive, and are rarely recovered (Marchant and Higgins 1990; Nicholls et al. 1994). While Northern Royal Albatrosses occur infrequently in waters off NSW, they are regularly recorded throughout the year around Tasmania and South Australia at the edge of the continental shelf (Blakers et al. 1984).

Breeding biology

Northern Royal Albatrosses breed biennially if successful. Adult birds return to their breeding grounds between October 20 and November 18. Nests are built in dispersed colonies, with up to 800 nests per hectare on Chatham Island. The female lays a month later. The hatchling emerges after 79 days of incubation, and fledges 240 days later, from September 8 to October 7 (Robertson 1991). Mean breeding success at the South Island colony is 31% (Westerskov 1963, in Marchant and Higgins 1990).

Young birds start to return to their natal colony at 4-8 years of age, and begin breeding after a minimum of nine years. Northern Royal Albatrosses have lived for at least 61 years in the wild (Robertson 1998).

Global population status

The annual breeding population of Northern Royal Albatrosses is estimated to be around 5,200 pairs. This figure equates to a total breeding population of 8,500 pairs, and possibly 34,000 individuals in total. The South Island population is fragile, with less than 20 pairs breeding each year. This tiny colony includes five Southern Royal x Northern Royal Albatrosshybrids. The population, established in 1920, is slowly increasing under intensive human surveillance and management. All other Northern Royal Albatrosses breed at the Chatham Islands. These populations are decreasing and this trend is expected to continue (C.J.R. Robertson pers comm., in Gales 1998).

3.5 Southern Royal Albatross Diomedea epomophora Lesson 1825

Previous name

Southern Royal Albatross Diomedea epomophora epomophora

Current breeding locations and jurisdiction
Jurisdiction Breeding locality
New Zealand Adams Island, Auckland Island, Campbell Island, Enderby Island

Endemic to New Zealand

Protection status
Jurisdiction Protection status
International Vulnerable
CMS Appendices Listed
National EPBC Act Vulnerable
Action Plan for Australian Birds Vulnerable

Distribution

Southern Royal Albatrosses have a circumpolar distribution within the Southern Oceans, foraging from 36 S to 55 S, though they spend most of their time south of 47 S. Immature birds are especially dispersive. Few individuals below seven years of age are encountered near their natal breeding grounds in New Zealand. Many move first from New Zealand to Chilean waters in November-February, and then to the Argentinian shelf in winter and spring. Immatures appear to stay in the south-west Atlantic for several years, where most 1-4 year olds are recovered. Alternatively, some newly fledged birds disperse first to the south-western shelf of Western Australia. One fledgling banded at Campbell Island had reached Ledge Point, near Perth within four months, and several others have been sighted in that area (Marchant and Higgins 1990).

Southern Royal Albatrosses range over the waters off southern Australia at all times of year, but especially between July and October. They have been recorded from Byron Bay in the east to south-western Western Australia. Most records are from the shelf-break areas, especially off western and southern Tasmania and around Victoria (Blakers et al. 1984).

Breeding biology

Southern Royal Albatrosses have a biennial breeding cycle. Breeding birds return to their nesting grounds from late October to mid-November. Nests are built in dispersed colonies (with up to 30 nests per hectare on Campbell Island). The female lays her egg in November-December, which hatches in February-March after 79 days of incubation. The chicks fledge eight months later from October 6 to December 12. Breeding success averages 62% (46-74% at Campbell Island: Waugh et al. 1997).

The juveniles disperse widely without returning to their natal colony until they have reached 4-8 years of age. Southern Royal Albatrosses do not begin breeding until they are at least nine years old (Waugh et al. 1997).

Global population status

About 7,870 pairs of Southern Royal Albatrosses breed annually. Given their biennial breeding biology, this figure equates to a total breeding population of around 13,000 pairs, and perhaps 50,000 individuals in total. These individuals are divided among four populations, three of which have fewer than 60 annual breeding pairs (P. Moore pers. comm., in Gales 1998; K. Walker pers. comm., in Gales 1998). The slowly increasing population at Enderby Island represents the recolonisation of the site in 1940 after their local extirpation in the 1860s (P. Moore pers. comm., in Gales 1998).

More than 99% of the global population breeds at Campbell Island. This population had been devastated by human predation during the sealing era, and by burning and grazing during the farming era. The population is thought to have shown signs of increase following the cessation of these pressures in 1931. Fluctuations in the size of the annual breeding population (23% between 1995 and 1996) make recent trends difficult to interpret (P. Moore pers. comm., in Gales 1998).

3.6 Amsterdam Albatross Diomedea amsterdamensis Roux et al. 1983

Previous name

Amsterdam Albatross Diomedea amsterdamensis

Current breeding locations and jurisdiction
Jurisdiction Breeding locality
France Amsterdam Island

Endemic to Amsterdam Island (France)

Protection status
Jurisdiction Protection status
International Critically Endangered
CMS Appendices Listed
National EPBC Act Endangered
Action Plan for Australian Birds Critically Endangered

Distribution

Amsterdam Albatrosses nest only on Amsterdam Island in the Indian Ocean. Their pelagic range is poorly known, but most sightings have been of birds in the Indian Ocean. There have, however, been a few records off New Zealand. Furthermore, one bird was captured on a longline fishing vessel operating on the High Seas south of Tasmania (del Hoyo et al. 1992; N. Brothers pers. comm., in Gales 1998). Thus, while Amsterdam Albatrosses have not yet been positively identified within the AFZ, there is certainly the potential for the occasional vagrant to enter Australian waters.

Breeding biology

Amsterdam Albatrosses are biennial breeders. Adult birds begin arriving at Amsterdam Island in January. Eggs are laid in late February-March and hatch 79 days later in May. The offspring fledge in January-February after spending 235 days in the nest (Jouventin et al. 1989). Mean breeding success has been measured as 72% (Weimerskirch et al. 1997a). On average, each breeding pair produces one egg every 1.8 years and fledges a chick every 2.4 years (Jouventin et al. 1989). The offspring then range the seas for 4-7 years before returning to the island. Individuals do not begin breeding until they are nine years of age.

Global population status

There are perhaps only 90 Amsterdam Albatrosses remaining. Only about 20 pairs actively breed, laying an average of 13 eggs per year. These facts place them among the world's rarest seabirds, and at great risk of extinction. The number of pairs breeding each year has increased from five pairs in the mid-1980s when monitoring studies began (Weimerskirch et al. 1997a).

3.7 Laysan Albatross Phoebastria immutabilis Rothschild 1893

Previous name

Laysan Albatross Diomedea immutabilis

Current breeding locations and jurisdiction
Jurisdiction Breeding locality
Japan Mukojima (Bonin Islands)
Mexico Isla Guadalupe, Isla Clarion, Isla San Benedicto
U.S.A. French Frigate Shoals, Kauai Island, Kaula Island, Kure Atoll, Laysan Island, Lisianski Island, Midway Atoll, Necker Island, Niihau Island, Pearl and Hermes Reef
Protection status
Jurisdiction Protection status
International Lower Risk: Least Concern
CMS Appendices Listed
National EPBC Act Not listed
Action Plan for Australian Birds Not Listed

Distribution

The Laysan Albatross is a bird of the North Pacific Ocean. Throughout the breeding season most are located between Japan, the Aleutian Islands and Hawaii (Harrison 1990). They rapidly disperse after breeding, primarily over oceanic waters or along the continental shelf-break as far north as the Bering Sea and eastwards to the Pacific Coast of North America and Mexico. They are most numerous on the western side of the North Pacific, with the largest concentrations occurring off eastern Japan (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Laysan Albatrosses have only ever been recorded three times south of the equator. In 1985 and 1986 a solitary Laysan Albatross (presumed to be the same individual) was seen on Norfolk Island (Leishman 1998b).

Breeding biology

Adult Laysan Albatrosses return to their colonies each year in late October and early November. Nesting is colonial. Egg laying occurs in November-December. Incubation lasts 65 days. The chick emerges in January-February and remains in the nest for a further 165 days before fledging in June-July (Harrison 1990). Breeding success ranges from 49%-78% (Fisher 1975, 1976; van Ryzin and Fisher 1976). Sexual maturity is reached after 5-16 years (van Ryzin and Fisher 1976).

Global population status

The current population of Laysan Albatrosses approaches 607,000 breeding pairs, representing 2.5-3 million birds in total (reviewed in Gales 1998). This figure makes them the most numerous of the North Pacific albatross species. However, the two largest populations (amounting to 93% of the world's population) are known to be in decline (Gales 1998). The population at Midway Atoll, representing 70% of the global population, showed a decrease of 15% in 1991/92 (E. Flint pers. comm., in Gales 1998). Laysan Albatrosses appear to have recently recolonised several breeding islands in Hawaii, Mexico and Japan (Gales 1998).

3.8 Campbell Albatross Thalassarche impavida (Mathews 1912)

Previous names

Black-browed Albatross Diomedea melanophris impavida, New Zealand Black-browed Albatross

Breeding location and jurisdiction
Jurisdiction Breeding locality
New Zealand Campbell Island

Endemic to New Zealand

Protection status
Jurisdiction Protection status
International Vulnerable
CMS Appendices Listed
National EPBC Act Vulnerable
Action Plan for Australian Birds Vulnerable

Distribution

Campbell Albatrosses occur in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters and in the subtropical South Pacific Ocean. They breed only on sub-Antarctic Campbell Island, south of New Zealand. Throughout the breeding season, breeding adults are generally found over the shelf waters surrounding New Zealand, whereas non-breeding birds often forage over the continental slopes around Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales. Their post-breeding northern dispersal is restricted to the temperate shelf waters of New Zealand, Australia and the central and western Pacific Islands (Marchant and Higgins 1990; Moore and Moffat 1990).

Breeding biology

Pairs breed annually. Adults return to Campbell Island to begin breeding in early-mid August. Nests are built in dense colonies, 1m apart. The egg is laid from September 18 to October 8. The young fledge at 7-8 months of age in April-May. In 1988, 50 eggs were monitored, 26 of which (52%) successfully fledged (Moore and Moffat 1990).

Global population status

Population estimates by Robertson (1980, in Moore and Moffat 1990) of 74,825 pairs in 1976 appear to be over-estimates (Moore and Moffat 1990). In 1987/88 an estimated 19,000-26,000 pairs bred on Campbell Island, signalling an overall decline of 38-57% since 1942, with some colonies falling by as much as 88% (Moore and Moffat 1990). Photographic evidence also suggests there have been significant decreases in the population in recent decades (Moore 1995).

3.9 Buller's Albatross Thalassarche bulleri Rothschild 1893

Previous name

Buller's Albatross Diomedea bulleri bulleri, Southern Buller's Albatross

Current breeding locations and jurisdiction
Jurisdiction Breeding locality
New Zealand Snares Island, Solander Islands

Endemic to New Zealand

Protection status
Jurisdiction Protection status
International Vulnerable
CMS Appendices Listed
National EPBC Act Vulnerable
Action Plan for Australian Birds Vulnerable

Distribution

During the breeding season, the highest concentrations of Buller's Albatrosses occur over the shelf and slope waters off Southern New Zealand (Stahl et al. 1998). Individuals have been observed in Australian waters south of Coff's Harbour, around Tasmania, and west to the Eyre Peninsula (Blakers et al. 1984; Stahl et al. 1998), although some of these birds may have been the closely related Pacific Albatross. Buller's Albatrosses are most common off south-east Tasmania between January and April (Reid et al. in press). Non-breeding birds perhaps disperse to oceanic subtropical waters of the western South Pacific, or the western South American Coast (Stahl et al. 1998).

Breeding biology

Buller's Albatross typically breeds annually. The adults begin returning to the colonies in mid-December, and the egg is laid in January-February. Hatching occurs in mid-March to April. The young fledge in spring from late August to late October (Warham and Bennington 1983; Sagar and Warham 1998). There are few published data regarding breeding success of this species. An overall breeding success of 57% was recorded at The Snares in 1972 (Sagar and Warham 1998). Sagar and colleagues are currently engaged in a further study of the population.

Global population status

The combined breeding population, estimated at 11,500 pairs, equates to about 50,000 to 55,000 birds in total. More than three-quarters of these birds are from the Snares Islands population, with the remainder from Solander and Little Solander Islands (Cooper et al. 1986; Sagar et al. 1994, 1999). It is not possible to determine the status of any of these populations due to the absence of any long-term survey data.

3.10 Pacific Albatross Thalassarche nov. sp. Reichenow 1898

Previous name

Buller's Albatross Diomedea bulleri platei, Northern Buller's Albatross

Current breeding locations and jurisdiction
Jurisdiction Breeding locality
New Zealand Chatham Islands, Three Kings Island

Endemic to New Zealand

Protection status
Jurisdiction Protection status
International Vulnerable
CMS Appendices Listed
National EPBC Act Vulnerable
Action Plan for Australian Birds Vulnerable

Distribution

The distribution of the Pacific Albatross is poorly known, predominantly due to its recent taxonomic separation from Buller's Albatross and the difficulty of distinguishing between the two species at sea. During the breeding season most Pacific Albatross records are from around the Chatham Islands and over the oceanic subtropical waters east of New Zealand. Most birds seem to disperse outside Australasian seas during the non-breeding season. Some non-breeding birds have been sighted off the west coast of South America and it is possible that many also forage over the Louisville Ridge north-east of New Zealand (Stahl et al. 1998). Given the vast range of this species and the proximity of its breeding grounds to Australia, some individuals are suspected to occasionally forage within the AFZ. As yet, however, no individuals have been recorded within Australian waters.

Breeding biology

The Pacific Albatross is presumed to breed annually. Adults return to the breeding colonies in September-October. The egg is laid in early November and hatches in January. The offspring fledges in June (Robertson 1985, 1991). There are no published data regarding breeding success, juvenile survival, recruitment rates or age at first breeding for this species.

Global population status

The total breeding population of Pacific Albatrosses is estimated at 18,000 pairs, equating to perhaps 80,000-90,000 birds. However, the population estimates for over 95% of the global population are crude, being derived purely on the basis of area. Reliable population data exist only for the Little Sister Island population (estimated at < 4% of population) (Robertson 1991; C.J.R. Robertson pers. comm., in Gales 1998). Thus, it is not possible to evaluate the status of this species.

3.11 White-capped Albatross Thalassarche steadi

Previous names

Shy Albatross Diomedea cauta cauta

Breeding location and jurisdiction
Jurisdiction Breeding locality
New Zealand Adams Island, Antipodes Islands (Bollons Island), Auckland Island, Disappointment Island

Endemic to New Zealand

Protection status
Jurisdiction Protection status
International Vulnerable
CMS Appendices Listed
National EPBC Act Vulnerable
Action Plan for Australian Birds Vulnerable

Distribution

It is difficult to know the precise distribution of this newly recognised species due to the difficulties of distinguishing it at sea from Shy Albatrosses and the absence of specific banding studies. Nonetheless, White-capped Albatrosses are the most abundant albatross in all New Zealand shelf waters, except on the Chatham Rise and Bounty Platform (displaced by Salvin's Albatross) and the Campbell Shelf (displaced by Campbell Albatross). The adults are present in New Zealand and south-east Australian waters throughout the year whilst immatures are rare in New Zealand waters, being more common off south-east Australia and South Africa (Marchant and Higgins 1990).

Breeding biology

Very little is known of the breeding biology of White-capped Albatrosses. Pairs nest annually and colonially. Unlike most other albatross species, egg laying is delayed until mid-November and hatching not occurring till February. The young fledge in spring (mid-August). Adults remain near the colony during the breeding season, and possibly throughout the entire year (Robertson 1985).

Global population status

The historical and present status of this newly distinguished species is virtually unknown. The largest population occurs on Disappointment Island where 64,000 pairs breed (based on aerial surveys). In the early 1990s, about 1,000 pairs bred on Auckland Island while 200 pairs bred on Adams Island (C.J.R. Robertson pers. comm., in Gales 1993). There are no data on the size of the small population on Bollons Island. In sum, the breeding population approaches 65,000 pairs, equating to a total of 350,000-375,000 individuals (C.J.R. Robertson pers. comm., in Gales 1998; K. Walker pers. comm., in Gales 1998).

3.12 Salvin's Albatross Thalassarche salvini (Rothschild 1893)

Previous names

Shy Albatross Diomedea cauta salvini, Salvin's Albatross, Grey-backed Albatross, Bounty Albatross

Breeding location and jurisdiction
Jurisdiction Breeding locality
France Penguin Island (Crozet Islands)
New Zealand Bounty Island, Snares Island
Protection status
Jurisdiction Protection status
International Vulnerable
CMS Appendices Listed
National EPBC Act Vulnerable
Action Plan for Australian Birds Vulnerable

Distribution

This species is abundant throughout the year on all continental shelf areas around New Zealand (J.A. Bartle pers. comm. in Gales 1993). It roams widely in winter, moving eastwards across the South Pacific to the Humboldt Current in the waters off the west coast of South America (Chile and Peru). Here it extends north to about 5 S (Marchant and Higgins 1990). Small numbers of non-breeding adults regularly fly across the Tasman Sea to south-east Australian waters (Barton 1979; Blakers et al. 1984; Reid et al.in press). It is scarce in the southern Indian Ocean, though small numbers occur around the Crozet Islands where it has recently been discovered breeding (Jouventin 1990). It is only a rare vagrant to the South Atlantic, though small numbers are present in the shelf waters of South Africa (Marchant and Higgins 1990).

Breeding biology

Salvin's Albatross probably breeds annually. Adults return to their breeding colonies in September, with the birds at Bounty Island returning 7-10 days later than at Snares Island. The nest is built in a moderately dense colony (one nest per 1.9m2). Eggs are laid in early October, and begin to hatch in early to mid-November. Breeding adults forage over the shelf waters around the colonies. Chicks fledge in late March to early April (Robertson and van Tets 1982; Robertson 1985).

Global population status

The status of this recently distinguished species is effectively unknown. The total population at Bounty Island is about 76,000 +/- 10%. This estimate is derived from the extent of the breeding area in 1978 (C.J.R. Robertson pers. comm., in Gales 1993). The population at Snares Island is estimated as between 650 and 'a few thousand' breeding pairs (C.J.R. Robertson pers. comm., in Gales 1998), though it has never been surveyed. The four breeding pairs recently discovered on the Crozet Islands appear to be temporally stable (Jouventin 1990).

The global breeding population, an estimated 76,500 pairs, equates to a total population of approximately 350,000-380,000 birds, with the New Zealand populations accounting for >99% (Robertson and van Tets 1982; Miskelly 1984).

3.13 Chatham Albatross Thalassarche eremita (Murphy 1930)

Previous names

Shy Albatross Diomedea cauta eremita

Chatham Island Albatross

Breeding location and jurisdiction
Jurisdiction Breeding locality
New Zealand Pyramid Rock (Chatham Islands)

Endemic to New Zealand

Protection status
Jurisdiction Protection status
International Critically Endangered
CMS Appendices Listed
National EPBC Act Endangered
Action Plan for Australian Birds Critically Endangered

Distribution

Chatham Albatrosses breed only on one small island to the west of New Zealand. Breeding adults seem to forage in close proximity to their breeding grounds. They are less abundant around the Chatham Islands in summer, and most likely disperse eastwards to the northern Humboldt Current region off South America in winter (C.J.R. Robertson pers. comm., in Gales 1993; J.A. Bartle pers. comm., in Gales 1993).

Breeding biology

Chatham Albatrosses are presumed to breed annually. Individuals begin arriving at Pyramid Rock in late August to form dense breeding colonies on grassy slopes. Pairs lay in September with the egg hatching during the last three weeks of October. Chicks fledge around April (Robertson and van Tets 1982; Robertson 1985).

Global population status

There have never been any ground counts of this species. The breeding population is estimated to be ca. 4000 pairs, based on aerial photographs taken in 1972. This might imply that the total Chatham Albatross population approaches 18,000 to 20,000 individuals. Obviously the accuracy of this population estimate is low, and the status of this species is unknown (C.J.R. Robertson pers. comm., in Gales 1998).

3.14 Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross Thalassarche chlororhynchos Gmelin 1789

Previous name

Yellow-nosed Albatross Diomedea chlororhynchos chlororhynchos

Current breeding locations and jurisdiction
Jurisdiction Breeding locality
United Kingdom Gough Island, Tristan da Cunha Islands

Endemic to territories of the United Kingdom

Protection status
Jurisdiction Protection status
International Data Deficient
CMS Appendices Listed
National EPBC Act Not Listed
Action Plan for Australian Birds Vulnerable

Distribution

Little is known about the oceanic distribution of the Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross. It is most common between 15 S and 50 S in the southern Atlantic Ocean, over both pelagic and inshore waters (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Adults may forage far from their southern breeding grounds. Post-breeding adults and juveniles disperse to become abundant off the east coast of South America and the west coast of southern Africa. They are very rarely seen in Australian waters (Marchant and Higgins 1990; Adams 1992).

Breeding biology

The annual breeding cycle of the Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross commences in late August-early September when adults return to their breeding colonies. Pairs may nest solitarily, or in loose colonies to large colonies. The egg is laid in September-October, and hatches in November-December. The chicks fledge in April to early May, after spending 130 days in the nest (Elliot 1957). They are extremely philopatric. Of the 72 birds banded as adults, not one has been recovered away from the island. Adults banded on Tristan da Cunha in 1938 were still alive in 1982 (Hagen 1982).

Global population status

The global breeding population is estimated to be around 36,800 pairs, corresponding to approximately 165,000-185,000 individuals in total. No population has ever been reliably surveyed, precluding any assessment of population trends and status for the six populations. There is some evidence that the Gough Island population (representing 12-31% of the global population) has shown a significant decrease since the 1980s (Richardson 1984; Fraser et al. 1988; J. Cooper pers. comm., in Gales 1998).

3.15 Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross Thalassarche carteri Mathews 1912

Previous name

Yellow-nosed Albatross Diomedea chlororhynchos bassi

Current breeding locations and jurisdiction
Jurisdiction Breeding locality
France Amsterdam Island, Crozet Islands, Kerguelen Islands, St. Paul Island
South Africa Prince Edward Island
Protection status
Jurisdiction Protection status
International Vulnerable
CMS Appendices Listed
National EPBC Act Vulnerable
Action Plan for Australian Birds Vulnerable

Distribution

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses predominantly occur within the southern Indian Ocean. They are found over both pelagic and inshore waters between 15 S and 50 S (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Even during the breeding season adults can be found foraging at subtropical latitudes. Post-breeding birds are abundant off the southern and eastern coasts of South Africa (Adams 1992), though they have not been recorded any further west (Marchant and Higgins 1990). Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses are the most common albatross in the Great Australian Bight and central Bass Strait. They also occur in the waters east of Tasmania and the Australian mainland north to Coff's Harbour (Barton 1979; Woods 1992; Reid et al. in press).

Breeding biology

The annual breeding cycle of Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses lasts eight months, beginning mid-August. Nests may be built in dispersed pairs or in loose to vast colonies. The egg is laid in September-October, and incubated for 78 days. Chicks hatch in November-December, and fledge 115 days later, between March 20 and April 17 (Jouventin et al. 1983; Weimerskirch et al. 1986). Pairs travel to distant, subtropical feeding sites while rearing chicks (Weimerskirch et al. 1986). Breeding success averages 24.5% (range = 0-67%) at Amsterdam Island (Weimerskirch and Jouventin 1998).

Global population status

The global population is an estimated 36,500 annual breeding pairs. This corresponds to roughly 160,000-180,000 individuals in total. The Amsterdam Island population, which represents over 70% of the global population, has decreased by over one-third since the early 1980s and continues to decline at 7% per year (Weimerskirch and Jouventin 1998). The status of all other populations of Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses remains unknown.

3.16 Sooty Albatross Phoebetria fusca Hilsenberg 1822

Previous name

Sooty Albatross Phoebetria fusca

Current breeding locations and jurisdiction
Jurisdiction Breeding locality
France Amsterdam Island, Crozet Islands, Kerguelen Island, St. Paul Island
South Africa Marion Island, Prince Edward Island
United Kingdom Gough Island, Tristan da Cunha Island
Protection status
Jurisdiction Protection status
International Vulnerable
CMS Appendices Listed
National EPBC Act Vulnerable
Action Plan for Australian Birds Vulnerable

Distribution

While breeding, some Sooty Albatrosses travel over 350km from their colony to foraging grounds (Cooper and Klages 1995). Post-breeding and non-breeding birds disperse widely between about 30 S and 60 S in the southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans, from Argentina east to the NSW coast (del Hoyo et al. 1993). They occur in small numbers from Western Australia across to Tasmania, particularly beyond the continental shelf (Reid et al. in press). Sooty Albatrosses are only a vagrant to New South Wales and Queensland (Marchant and Higgins 1990).

Breeding biology

Adults begin to return to their breeding grounds in mid-July to early September. The nests can be solitary or in loose association, with nesting density varying according to the steepness of the terrain. Most eggs are laid in October. The egg is incubated for 65-75 days, hatching in mid-December. The nestling period lasts from 145-178 days, with most chicks fledging in mid-May to early June (Berruti 1979; Weimerskirch et al. 1986, 1987). Breeding success at Possession Island ranged from 10% to 85% (1966-1995, mean 58%: Weimerskirch and Jouventin 1998). Most unsuccessful pairs (83%) attempt to breed in the following year (Jouventin and Weimerskirch 1984).

Immatures spend at least eight years foraging over subtropical seas before returning to their natal colony. The average age at first breeding is 12 years, with a minimum of nine years. Non-breeding immature birds often join the breeding colony in December, leaving again in June (Jouventin and Weimerskirch 1991).

Global population status

The annual breeding population of Sooty Albatrosses is estimated at 15,655 pairs, approximating 100,000 individuals in total. There are currently 15 breeding populations worldwide, none of which number more than 5-10,000 pairs. Six of the populations have less than 100 breeding pairs (Jouventin et al. 1984; Richardson 1984; Fraser et al. 1988; Cooper and Brown 1990; Weimerskirch and Jouventin 1998; H. Weimerskirch pers. comm., in Gales 1998).

The population status is known only for Possession Island (Crozet Island group), which represents about 2% of the estimated global population. This population is currently decreasing at a rate of 3% per annum, and in some years has fallen by 6.9% (between 1979-86). This translates to a 58% decrease in the population in less than 20 years (Weimerskirch and Jouventin 1998). The status of the remaining 14 populations (comprising 98% of the global population) is unknown.