Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed marine as Phoebetria palpebrata
Listed migratory - Bonn as Phoebetria palpebrata
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Other EPBC Act Plans National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan] as Phoebetria palpebrata.
 
Threat Abatement Plan for the Incidental Catch (or Bycatch) of Seabirds During Oceanic Longline Fishing Operations (Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), 2006) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Threat Abatement Plan 2006 - Bycatch of Seabirds for the Incidental Catch (or By-catch) of Seabirds During Oceanic Longline Fishing Operations (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2006q) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Plan for the Eradication of Rabbits and Rodents on Subantarctic Macquarie Island (Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service (Tas. PWS), 2007a) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Information Sheets Background Paper, Population Status and Threats to Albatrosses and Giant Petrels Listed as Threatened under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011k) [Information Sheet].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
List of Migratory Species (13/07/2000) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000b) [Legislative Instrument] as Phoebetria palpebrata.
 
Declaration under section 248 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of Marine Species (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000c) [Legislative Instrument] as Phoebetria palpebrata.
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
TAS:Phoebetria palpebrata (Light-mantled Sooty Albatross): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2014vo) [State Action Plan].
State Listing Status
SA: Listed as Vulnerable (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia): June 2011) as Diomedea palpebrata
TAS: Listed as Vulnerable (Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 (Tasmania): September 2012) as Phoebetria palpebrata
VIC: Listed as Threatened (Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victoria): February 2014) as Phoebetria palpebrata
Non-statutory Listing Status
WA: Listed as P4 (Priority Flora and Priority Fauna List (Western Australia): April 2014)
Scientific name Phoebetria palpebrata [1076]
Family Diomedeidae:Procellariiformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Forster,1785)
Infraspecies author  
Reference http://www.aad.gov.au/default.asp?casid=1578
Other names Diomedea palpebrata [85038]
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

The current conservation status of the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Phoebetria palpebrata, under Australian and State Government legislation and international conventions, is as follows:

National: Listed as Migratory and Marine under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Victoria: Listed as Threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.

Tasmania: Listed as Vulnerable under the Threatened Species Protection Act 1995.

South Australia: Listed as Vulnerable under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972.

Western Australia: Removed from the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 in November 2012.

Scientific Name: Phoebetria palpabrata.

Common Name: Light-mantled Sooty Albatross; Light-mantled Albatross.

The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP 2007), of which Australia is a signatory, has established a working group on the taxonomy of albatrosses and petrels. The Light-mantled Sooty Albatross is considered to be a conventionally accepted species by this taxonomic working group.

The Light-mantled Sooty Albatross is a medium-sized albatross (length 78–90 cm; wingspan 1.8–2.2 m; weight 2.5–3.7 kg). Its plumage is sooty-brown except for a white crescent around each eye; a grey or light-grey mantle, back and rump; and a pale brownish-grey breast and belly. It has brown irides, a black bill with a pale blue or violet sulcus, and mauve or greyish-flesh legs and feet (Brooke 2004; Marchant & Higgins 1990; Tickell 2000). Juveniles are similar to adults but have a grey (rather than white) crescent around each eye; dark (rather than whitish) shafts to the primaries and rectrices; a grey, brownish or pale yellow sulcus; and, in older immatures, mottled plumage (Marchant & Higgins 1990).

The Light-mantled Sooty Albatross usually occurs solitarily or in small groups when at sea (Marchant & Higgins 1990). It breeds solitarily or in small colonies of up to 15 nests (Tickell 2000; Weimerskirch et al. 1986, 1989).

The Light-mantled Sooty Albatross breeds on Heard Island, McDonald Islands and Macquarie Island (Downes et al. 1959; Gales 1998; Johnstone 1980). The species occurs over waters of the Australian Economic Exclusion and Australian Fishing Zones around Heard, McDonald and Macquarie Islands and off the coasts of Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and NSW (Alexander 1917; Barrett et al. 2003; Clarke & Schulz 2005; Reid et al. 2002; Tickell 1995). Two dead individuals were recovered from North Stradbroke Island, south-eastern Queensland, in 1959 (Hines 1962).

The extent of occurrence of breeding colonies within Australian jurisdiction is estimated to be 5 000 000 km². This estimate is considered to be of medium reliability. The extent of occurrence is likely to be stable at the present time (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The area of occupancy of breeding colonies within Australian jurisdiction is estimated to be 40 km². This estimate is considered to be of medium reliability. The area of occupancy is likely to be stable at the present time (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The Light-mantled Sooty Albatross breeds at three locations within Australian jurisdiction: Heard Island, MacDonald Islands and Macquarie Island.

There are no captive populations of the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross (International Species Information System 2008).

The breeding distribution of the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross is naturally fragmented with individuals nesting on widely-separated islands across the southern reaches of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans (Brooke 2004; Gales 1998; Tickell 2000).

The Light-mantled Sooty Albatross has a widespread circumpolar distribution. The species is mostly recorded between 40º S and 60º S, but individuals have been observed as far north as 20º S, and as far south as the limit of the Antarctic pack-ice to 77º50´ S (Brooke 2004; Harrison 1983; Tickell 2000), with a single record from the Northern Hemisphere of a solitary individual at Cordell Bank off the coast of California in the United States (Morlan 1994). Pairs breed on Prince Edward Islands, Crozet Islands (Iles Crozet), Kerguelen Islands (Iles Kerguelen), Heard Island, McDonald Islands, Macquarie Island, Auckland Islands, Campbell Island, Antipodes Islands and South Georgia (Gales 1998; Tickell 2000).


The global population size of the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross is estimated at 21 600 breeding pairs or 145 000 individuals in total. The global population trend is difficult to determine because of a lack of repeated surveys at breeding locations (Gales 1998). Declines have been recorded in some parts of the range. The breeding population on Possession Island (Ile de la Possession) in the Crozet Islands declined by 13% from 1980/1981 to 1994/1995 (Weimerskirch & Jouventin 1998), the breeding population on Marion Island in the Prince Edward Islands appears to have declined since the 1997/1998 breeding season (BirdLife International 2007i) and annual numbers recorded at Prydz Bay in Antarctica declined by 62% from 1980/1981 to 1992/1993 (Woehler 1996). However, counts suggest that numbers are increasing on Macquarie Island (Gales 1998; Kerry & Colback 1972; Parks & Wildlife Service 2006; Terauds 2000).


The breeding population of the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross within Australian jurisdiction is estimated at 1600 or more pairs or approximately 7% of the estimated global breeding population. Individuals that breed on Heard Island, McDonald Islands and Macquarie Island regularly occur outside of Australian jurisdiction (Parks & Wildlife Service 2006; Weimerskirch & Robertson 1994; Woehler 2006). For example, five satellite-tracked individuals breeding on Macquarie Island foraged south of the Antarctic Polar front at an average distance of 1516 km, and up to 2200 km, from their breeding sites (Weimerskirch & Robertson 1994). Individuals that breed on Heard Island, McDonald Islands and Macquarie Island could therefore be affected by threats operating outside of Australian jurisdiction.

The breeding populations on Heard Island, McDonald Islands and Macquarie Island have not been well surveyed.

The total breeding population of the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross within Australian jurisdiction is estimated at 1600 or more pairs. This figure is based on estimates of 500 pairs (minimum) at Heard Island (Woehler 2006) and 1110 pairs at Macquarie Island (Terauds 2000) and the presence of a small but non-quantified population at the McDonald Islands (Johnstone 1980).

There are three geographically-isolated breeding subpopulations within Australian jurisdiction. These are located on Heard Island, McDonald Islands and Macquarie Island. There is little or no exchange of breeding individuals between Heard Island and Macquarie Island (Garnett & Crowley 2000). It is not known if breeding individuals move between Heard Island and McDonald Islands, which are separated by a distance of only 44 km, but the exchange rate is probably low given that adults exhibit strong fidelity to breeding sites and chicks return to their natal area when they begin breeding (Kelly & Garland 1984; Weimerskirch et al. 1987).

The breeding population on Heard Island was estimated at 200–500 pairs in 1954 (Downes et al. 1959) and at a minimum 500 pairs in 2005 (Woehler 2006). The breeding population on the McDonald Islands has never been quantified, but in 1980 numbers were said to be fewer than on Macquarie Island (Johnstone 1980). The breeding population on Macquarie Island was estimated at 700 pairs in 1975 (Gales 1993), 1000–1150 pairs in 1992–1993 (Gales 1993) and 1994–1995 (Gales 1998), 1100 pairs in 1998–1999 (Terauds 2000) and 1500–1800 pairs in 2000–2002 (Parks and Wildlife Service 2006).

The breeding population of the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross within Australian jurisdiction appears to be stable based on the few surveys conducted (Garnett & Crowley 2000). Historically, numbers may have declined during the 19th century when whalers frequented both Heard and Macquarie Islands and probably exploited the species for food, but no anecdotal or quantitative evidence is available to confirm this (Environment Australia 2001f).

The Light-mantled Sooty Albatross does not undergo extreme natural fluctuations in population size, extent of occurrence or area of occupancy.

The generation length of the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross is estimated to be 40 years. This estimate is based on documented life-history data for related taxa with similar ecological requirements (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The key breeding population of the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross within Australian jurisdiction, based purely on the number of breeding pairs, is the population on Macquarie Island. However, as the total breeding population within Australia is estimated at only 1600 or more pairs, all three breeding populations are likely to be important for the long-term persistence of the species within Australia.

All breeding populations of the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross within Australian jurisdiction are located on protected land. Heard Island and the McDonald Islands are listed together as a World Heritage property, and the islands and selected areas of the surrounding waters form Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve. Macquarie Island is also listed as a World Heritage property. The island, the nearby Bishop and Clerk Islets and the surrounding inshore waters form Macquarie Island Nature Reserve; and a selected area of the surrounding waters beyond the boundary of the nature reserve forms Macquarie Island Marine Park.

The Light-mantled Sooty Albatross is a pelagic marine species that occurs over continental shelf/slope and deeper waters in the sub-tropical, sub-Antarctic and Antarctic zones. The species breeds on sub-Antarctic islands and rocky islets where pairs nest on cliffs and steep slopes (Downes et al. 1959; Marchant & Higgins 1990; Reid et al. 2002; Tickell 2000).
The Light-mantled Sooty Albatross does not occur in any of the threatened ecological communities listed under the EPBC Act.

Light-mantled Sooty Albatross pairs sometimes breed in mixed colonies with Cape Petrels (Daption capense), Grey-headed Albatrosses (Thalassarche chrysostoma) and Sooty Albatrosses (Phoebetria fusca) on islands outside of Australian jurisdiction (Berruti 1979; Mougin 1970; Weimerskirch et al. 1986), or near Black-browed Albatrosses (Thalassarche melanophris) on Heard Island (E.J. Woehler 2007a, pers. comm.). Each of these species is listed as a Marine species, and the Sooty Albatross is also listed as a Migratory species, under the EPBC Act.

At sea, Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses sometimes forage in association with Wandering Albatrosses (Diomedea exulans) (Marchant & Higgins 1990). The Wandering Albatross is listed as a Threatened, Marine and Migratory species under the EPBC Act.

Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses can begin breeding at six years of age (Kerry & Garland 1984), although a study on the Crozet Islands found that the average age of first breeding is 12 years (Weimerskirch & Jouventin 1998). Individuals are capable of surviving to at least 32 years of age (Tickell 2000). No data is available on mortality rates in Australia. However, it is known that only a small proportion of birds are recruited into the breeding population at Macquarie Island; of 600 individuals banded as chicks during the 1970s and 1980s, fewer than 20 (<3.3%) had returned to the island to breed in 1993 (Gales 1993). The mean annual survival of adult birds in the Crozet Islands from 1976–1982 was 97.3% (Weimerskirch et al. 1987).

The Light-mantled Sooty Albatross breeds from October-November to May-June (Downes et al. 1959; Kerry & Garland 1984; Marchant & Higgins 1990; Tickell 2000). Pairs construct a truncated cone-shaped or pedestal-like nest of peat and/or plant material (Downes et al. 1959; Tickell 2000). Nests are situated on ledges or terraces of cliffs or on steep slopes and are usually backed by a wall of rock or earth (Berruti 1979; Tickell 2000).

Clutches consist of a single white egg with brown or reddish-brown spots (Marchant & Higgins 1990). Eggs are incubated by both parents in alternating shifts for a period of 63–71 days. Chicks are brooded by both parents in alternating shifts for a period of 14–25 days (Berruti 1979; Kerry & Garland 1984; Mougin 1970; Sorensen 1950; Thomas et al. 1983; Tickell 2000; Weimerskirch et al. 1986). Chicks are fed by both parents at mean intervals of 1.6–2.6 days (Berruti 1979; Phillips et al. 2005; Terauds & Gales 2006; Thomas et al. 1983). The fledging period is variable, with chicks departing their nests at 133–175 days of age (Berruti 1979; Kerry & Garland 1984; Mougin 1970; Sorensen 1950; Thomas et al. 1983; Weimerskirch et al. 1986).

Data on breeding success is available from both Heard Island and Macquarie Island. The mean breeding success of pairs on Macquarie Island from 1970/1971 to 1980/1981 was 52% (Kerry & Garland 1984). The mean breeding success of pairs on Macquarie Island from 1994/1999 was also 52%, with success varying from 43–57% between years (Environment Australia 2001f). The breeding success of pairs in the Atlas Cove area of Heard Island in 2000/2001 was less than 30% (Woehler 2006).

The Light-mantled Sooty Albatross exhibits low breeding productivity throughout its range. Pairs that breed successfully do not breed again for another two or three seasons. This behaviour, combined with low fecundity and modest rates of breeding success, means that pairs produce on average one fledging every three to four years (Brooke 2004; Jouventin & Weimerskirch 1988; Kerry & Garland 1984).

The Light-mantled Sooty Albatross feeds on fish, cephalopods (for example squid and octopus), crustaceans and carrion (for example penguins, prions and seals) (Cherel & Klages 1998; Green et al. 1998).

The Light-mantled Sooty Albatross forages entirely at sea. It obtains most of its food by floating on the surface of the ocean and plucking prey items from the water with its bill (termed 'surface seizing'). It occasionally forages by diving under water while floating on the surface ('surface diving') or by plunging into the water from in flight and partially submerging or submerging to just below the surface ('surface plunging' and 'shallow plunging') (Harper et al. 1985). Individuals fitted with depth gauges have recorded dives to 12 m below the surface. The depths of these dives, combined with the streamlined body of the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, suggests that individuals probably employ some form of active swimming to attain such depths (Prince et al. 1994b).

Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses follow longline fishing vessels to feed on cast baits and discarded scraps. This behaviour exposes them to incidental mortality through interactions with fishing vessels (Baker et al. 2002; Gales 1993, 1998).

The Light-mantled Sooty Albatross undertakes long-distance dispersal from breeding colonies. Pairs and fledged young depart their breeding colonies in May-June (Berruti 1979; Clarke & Schulz 2005; Downes et al. 1959; Kerry & Garland 1984; Sorensen 1950; Weimerskirch et al. 1986). Their movements at sea during the non-breeding season are poorly known, but individuals generally disperse northward, including into sub-tropical waters, when the Antarctic pack-ice expands in the Austral winter (Carboneras 1992; Marchant & Higgins 1990). It is at this time (late autumn-winter) that sightings peak in open waters off south-eastern Australia (Marchant & Higgins 1990; Reid et al. 2002). Breeding adults and non-breeding sub-adults return to colonies in September-October (Berruti 1979; Clarke & Schulz 2005; Downes et al. 1959; Kerry & Garland 1984; Mougin 1970; Sorensen 1950; Weimerskirch et al. 1986). Breeding birds undertake long-distance and long-duration foraging trips throughout the breeding season (Phalan et al. 2007; Phillips et al. 2005; Pinaud & Weimerskirch 2007; Weimerskirch 1998). For example, five satellite-tracked adults at Macquarie Island foraged an average distance of 1516 km, and up to at least 2200 km, from their breeding sites during the incubation period. Two of these individuals recorded foraging trips of 6463 km over 10 days and 6975 km over 15 days respectively (Weimerskirch & Robertson 1994). Adults with dependent young at Macquarie Island undertook a cycle of one long foraging trip (4–20 days duration) followed by several shorter foraging trips (0.2–4 days duration) followed by another long foraging trip to recommence the cycle (Terauds & Gales 2006).


The Light-mantled Sooty Albatross is highly territorial. Pairs defend their nest sites against conspecifics (for example, other pairs of Light-mantled Sooty Albatross) and Sooty Albatrosses (Phoebetria fusca) (Marchant & Higgins 1990). The defended area can be quite small with nests in colonies often separated by distances of less than 3 m (Berruti 1979; Sorensen 1950; Weimerskirch et al. 1986).

The Light-mantled Sooty Albatross is only likely to be confused with the closely-related Sooty Albatross (Marchant & Higgins 1990). Adults of the two species can generally be distinguished by the colour of the upperparts (grey or light-grey in Light-mantled Sooty Albatross and greyish-brown to blackish in Sooty Albatross) and the colour of the sulcus (pale blue or violet in Light-mantled Sooty Albatross and creamy to creamy-yellow or orange in Sooty Albatross). However, adult Sooty Albatrosses in worn plumage and immature Sooty Albatrosses can also have pale upperparts, making separation more difficult or, in some instances, impossible (Harrison 1983; Marchant & Higgins 1990).

The principal threat to the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross within Australian jurisdiction is incidental mortality arising from interactions with longline fishing operations (Gales 1998; Baker et al. 2002). Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses and other albatrosses and petrels routinely attend longline fishing vessels to feed on cast baits and discarded scraps. Death or injury can occur when birds ingest baited hooks during the setting or hauling of longlines; become hooked or entangled in fishing gear other than that being targeted; ingest hooks embedded in discarded scraps; or are shot by fishermen. The death of breeding birds can also result in the loss of eggs or dependent young. The primary cause of mortality is drowning when hooked birds are dragged underwater by the weight of the longline. This most frequently occurs during setting of the longline (Australian Antarctic Division 2005a; Baker et al. 2002; Environment Australia 2001f). The ability of Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses to dive to depths of 12 m after prey (Prince et al. 1994b) makes them particularly susceptible to capture (Gales 1998).

A Japanese longline fishery for Southern Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) that operated in the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) from 1986 to 1997 (Australian Antarctic Division 2005a; Caton 2003) is estimated to have captured up to 80 Light-mantled Albatross per year from 1989 to 1995 (Gales et al. 1998). Longline fishing by Australian vessels continues within the AFZ, but the introduction of compulsory mitigation measures by the federal government has seen total seabird bycatch rates drop from an observed rate of 0.92 birds/1000 hooks in the Australian longline fishery for Southern Bluefin Tuna (Brothers & Foster 1997) and an estimated minimum rate of 0.15 birds/1000 hooks in the Japanese longline fishery for Southern Bluefin Tuna (Gales et al. 1998) in the mid 1990s, to less than 0.05 birds/1000 hooks in a number of Australian longline fisheries in recent years (Australian Antarctic Division 2005a). The proportion of albatrosses in the bycatch of longline fisheries has also decreased from 74% in the Japanese longline fishery for Southern Bluefin Tuna from 1998 to 1995 (Gales et al. 1998) to less than 10% in Australian pelagic longline fisheries in recent years (Australian Antarctic Division 2005a; Baker & Wise 2005), most likely reflecting a change in the distribution of longline fishing effort within the AFZ (Australian Antarctic Division 2005a).

Satellite tracking studies of Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses breeding on Macquarie Island and the Crozet Islands suggest that interactions with longline vessels may be limited during the breeding season because foraging is concentrated over waters located south of longline fishing grounds (Gales 1998; Weimerskirch 1998; Weimerskirch & Robertson 1994). However, non-breeding individuals roam widely over the southern oceans, and both breeding and non-breeding individuals move northward in winter at the completion of the breeding season (Gales 1998; Weimerskirch 1998). As longline fisheries also operate on the high seas and in territorial waters of New Zealand and countries of southern Africa and South America (Australian Antarctic Division 2005a), potential exists for individuals from breeding colonies within Australian jurisdiction to come in contact with longline fisheries elsewhere in the Southern Hemisphere. Furthermore, many longline fisheries operating outside of Australian jurisdiction continue to operate without bycatch mitigation measures, thus increasing the potential for seabird mortality (Environment Australia 2001f).

The impacts of other threats operating within Australian jurisdiction are essentially unknown. The breeding success and/or nest site selection of individuals that frequent Macquarie Island have probably been adversely affected by the introduction of cats (Felis catus), which were potential predators but were eradicated from Macquarie Island in 2000, and by an increase in numbers of Brown Skua (Stercorarius antarcticus lonnbergi), an opportunistic predator of seabird eggs and chicks, which have attained high densities by feeding on introduced European Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) (Carmichael 2007; Environment Australia 2001f; Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Other potential threats to albatrosses and petrels within Australian jurisdiction include interactions with trawl and gillnet fisheries, dependence on fishery discards, over-extraction of prey species by fisheries, marine pollution (chemicals and solids), introduced rats and rabbits and avian parasites and disease (Baker et al. 2002). It is not known what impacts, if any, these threats are having on Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses within Australian jurisdiction.

A national recovery plan for albatrosses and giant-petrels has been developed and implemented (Environment Australia 2001f). This recovery plan identifies the following objectives to aid the conservation of the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, and other albatross and giant-petrels:

  • Quantify and reduce the threats to the survival of albatrosses and giant-petrels within areas under Australian jurisdiction.
  • Quantify and reduce the threats to the reproductive success of albatrosses and giant-petrels breeding within areas under Australian jurisdiction.
  • Quantify and reduce the threats to the foraging habitat of albatrosses and giant-petrels within areas under Australian jurisdiction.
  • Maintain existing population monitoring programs for albatrosses and giant-petrels breeding on Macquarie Island, Albatross Island, Pedra Branca, the Mewstone, and within the Australian Antarctic Territory, and develop population monitoring programs for other representative breeding populations under Australian jurisdiction.
  • Educate fishers and promote public awareness of the threats to albatrosses and giant-petrels.
  • Achieve substantial progress towards global conservation of albatrosses and giant-petrels in international conservation and fishing fora.
  • Assess and revise the Albatross and Giant-Petrel Recovery Plan as necessary.

Management plans have been developed and implemented for Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve (Australian Antarctic Division 2005) and Macquarie Island Nature Reserve and World Heritage Area (Tas PWS 2006) that define suitable activities for the islands, with the aim of conserving natural features and ecosystems, along with important terrestrial and marine species and their habitats.

The population at Heard Island is also monitored opportunistically (Downes et al. 1959; Woehler 2006).

The 'incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during longline fishing operations' is listed as a key threatening process under the EPBC Act. A threat abatement plan for the 'incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during longline fishing operations' has been developed and implemented (Australian Antarctic Division 2006). This plan aims to to significantly reduce the bycatch of seabirds during oceanic longline operations in the Australian Fishing Zone at current fishing levels (Australian Antarctic Division 2006). Measures include:

  • Longline fisheries operating within Australian waters are required by law to adopt prescribed measures to reduce seabird bycatch (Australian Antarctic Division 2005a, 2006).
  • Seabird bycatch rates in the Australian Fishing Zone are monitored (Australian Antarctic Division 2005a, 2006).

The impact of invasive species on islands suitable for breeding for the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross and other seabirds is also being addressed. Introduced cats have been eradicated from Macquarie Island (Parks & Wildlife Service 2006; Carmichael 2007), and a plan to eradicate introduced European Rabbits, Black Rats (Rattus rattus) and House Mice (Mus musculus) from Macquarie Island has also been developed and implemented (Tas PWS 2007a).

Strict quarantine protocols exist for Heard Island, McDonald Islands and Macquarie Island (Australian Antarctic Division 2005; Parks & Wildlife Service 2006) to prevent the introduction of exotic species. Tourism at Heard Island and Macquarie Island is also tightly controlled to prevent disturbance of the local ecosystems (Australian Antarctic Division 2005; Parks & Wildlife Service 2006).

An international multilateral 'Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels' has been established to facilitate cooperative research and conservation of albatrosses and petrels. To date, the agreement has been ratified by eleven nations - Argentina, Australia, Chile, Ecuador, France, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, South Africa, Spain and the United Kingdom (ACAP 2007).

There have been a small number of published major studies or detailed observations on the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross within Australian jurisdiction, such as Downes and colleagues 1959; Green and colleagues 1998; Kerry and Colback 1972; Kerry and Garland 1984; Weimerskirch and Robertson 1994. The species has been subject to long-term study on Macquarie Island, but the results of these studies, outside the few relevant citations listed above and some brief details elsewhere (for example, Gales 1998), have not been published.

There are two key Australian management documents for the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross:
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-petrels (Environment Australia 2001f) and a Threat Abatement Plan for the Incidental Catch or Bycatch of Seabirds During Longline Fishing Operations (Australian Antarctic Division 2006).

The species is also covered by management plans for Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve (Australian Antarctic Division 2005) and Macquarie Island Nature Reserve and World Heritage Area (Tas PWS 2006).

In addition the The South-West Marine Bioregional Plan: Bioregional Profile: A Description of the Ecosystems, Conservation Values and Uses of the South-West Marine Region (DEWHA 2008a) may inform management of this species.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Commercial harvest National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Illegal fishing practices and entanglement in set nets National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Incidental capture and death due to trawling fishing activities National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Incidental capture and death due to trolling fishing activities National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Incidental capture and drowning by longline fishing National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Threat Abatement Plan for the incidental catch (or by-catch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations (Environment Australia, 1998) [Threat Abatement Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Mortality due to capture, entanglement/drowning in nets and fishing lines National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Overfishing, competition with fishing operations and overfishing of prey fishing National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Biological Resource Use:Gathering Terrestrial Plants:Commercial harvest National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate change altering atmosphere/hydrosphere temperatures, rainfall patterns and/or frequency of severe weather events National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat changes caused by climate change National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat modification, destruction and alteration due to changes in land use patterns National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human disturbance as the result of ecotourism National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Mechanical disturbance during construction, maintanance or recreational activities National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Human Intrusions and Disturbance:inappropriate conservation measures National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Human Intrusions and Disturbance:Recreational Activities:shooting National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Oryctolagus cuniculus (Rabbit, European Rabbit) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Felis catus (Cat, House Cat, Domestic Cat) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Rattus exulans (Pacific Rat, Polynesian Rat) National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Rattus norvegicus (Brown Rat, Norway Rat) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Rattus rattus (Black Rat, Ship Rat) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Nasua narica (Common Coati, Coatimundi) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Mustela erminea ferghanae (Ermin, Stoat) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Canis lupus familiaris (Domestic Dog) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation by rats National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, competition and/or habitat degradation Mus musculus (House Mouse) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Capra hircus (Goat) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Ovis aries (Sheep) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Sus scrofa (Pig) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation Bos taurus (Domestic Cattle) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Infection by parasites National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Predation, competition, habitat degradation and/or spread of pathogens by introduced species National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Presence of pathogens and resulting disease National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Competition and/or predation Catharacta lonnbergi lonnbergi (Subantarctic Skua (southern), Brown Skua) National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Competition and/or predation by birds National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Garbage and Solid Waste:Dumping of household and industrial waste National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Pollution:Deterioration of water and soil quality (contamination and pollution) National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Pollution:Pollution due to oil spills and other chemical pollutants National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Pollution:heavy metals National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
Pollution:Pollution:spillage National recovery plan for threatened albatrosses and giant petrels 2011-2016 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011l) [Recovery Plan].
National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].
Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Poor recruitment (regeneration) and declining population numbers National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001-2005 (Environment Australia (EA), 2001f) [Recovery Plan].

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Phoebetria palpebrata in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Sat, 19 Apr 2014 08:11:30 +1000.