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 as Endangered as Thalassarche chrysostoma
Listed marine as Thalassarche chrysostoma
Listed migratory - Bonn as Thalassarche chrysostoma
Listed Critical Habitat Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) - Macquarie Island. .
 
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Listing Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cu) [Listing Advice].
 
Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cv) [Conservation Advice].
 
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, this species had a recovery plan in force at the time the legislation provided for the Minister to decide whether or not to have a recovery plan (19/2/2007).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery 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 Thalassarche chrysostoma.
 
Other EPBC Act Plans 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].
 
Threat abatement plan for the impacts of marine debris on vertebrate marine life (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2009t) [Threat Abatement Plan].
 
Policy Statements and Guidelines Survey Guidelines for Australia's Threatened Birds. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.2 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2010l) [Admin Guideline].
 
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].
 
Information Sheet - Harmful marine Debris (Environment Australia, 2003ac) [Information Sheet].
 
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument] as Thalassarche chrysostoma.
 
List of Migratory Species (13/07/2000) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000b) [Legislative Instrument] as Diomedea chrysostoma.
 
Declaration under section 248 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of Marine Species (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000c) [Legislative Instrument] as Thalassarche chrysostoma.
 
Inclusion of species in the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (90) (01/12/2009) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2009e) [Legislative Instrument] as Thalassarche chrysostoma.
 
State Government
    Documents and Websites
TAS:Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2014tg) [State Action Plan].
VIC:Flora and Fauna Guarantee Action Statement 181 - Nine Threatened Seabirds (Holliday, I., 2003c) [State Action Plan].
State Listing Status
QLD: Listed as Vulnerable (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): May 2014 list) as Thalassarche chrysostoma
SA: Listed as Vulnerable (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia): June 2011 list) as Diomedea chrysostoma
TAS: Listed as Endangered (Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 (Tasmania): September 2012 list) as Thalassarche chrysostoma
VIC: Listed as Threatened (Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victoria): February 2014 list) as Thalassarche chrysostoma
WA: Listed as Vulnerable (Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (Western Australia): September 2013 list) as Thalassarche chrysostoma
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Vulnerable (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
VIC: Listed as Vulnerable (Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna in Victoria: 2013 list)
NGO: Listed as Vulnerable (The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010)
Scientific name Thalassarche chrysostoma [66491]
Family Diomedeidae:Procellariiformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (J.R. Forster, 1785)
Infraspecies author  
Reference http://www.aad.gov.au/default.asp?casid=1553
Other names Diomedea chrysostoma [1071]
Thalassarche chrysotoma [64465]
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 Grey-headed Albatross, Thalassarche chrysostoma, under Australian and State Government legislation, and international conventions, is as follows:

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

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

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

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

Western Australia: Listed as Rare or likely to become extinct under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950.

International: Listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Redlist of Threatened Species (2009).

Listed under Diomedea chrysostoma, as Migratory under Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS/BONN).

Scientific name: Thalassarche chrysostoma

Common name: Grey-headed Albatross

Significant taxonomic confusion exists within the Albatross group. The Grey-headed Albatross is sometimes referred to under its previous generic name Diomedea chrysostoma. The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) of which Australia is a signatory, has established a working group on the taxonomy of albatrosses and petrels. This working group has agreed to follow Robertson and Nunn (1997) in resurrecting the historic generic name Thalassarche for medium sized albatrosses. Under this revised taxonomy, the Grey-headed Albatross becomes Thalassarche chrysostoma.

The Grey-headed Albatross is a medium sized albatross with a length of 70–85 cm, a wingspan of 1.8–2.05 m, males weigh 3.4–3.7 kg and females weigh 3–3.6 kg (Marchant & Higgins 1990). Adults have a distinct combination of a wholly grey head, neck and mantle, and a black bill with narrow yellow stripes along the culmen and the bottom of the lower mandible. Grey-headed Albatrosses have a white breast, black upperwings, the central lengths of the underwings are white, with a dark grey stripe on the forward edge and a lighter, narrower grey strip on the trailing edge (Marchant & Higgins 1990; Pizzey & Knight 1999). They have a white crescent behind the eye and their eyes are black with a brown iris. The legs and feet are usually grey or pink (Pizzey & Knight 1999). Juvenile Grey-headed Albatrosses have mostly black bills and heads, with napes darker than adults, indistinct white eye-crescents, and virtually no white on their underwings (BirdLife International 2009a).

In Australian territory, Grey-headed Albatross breed on the southern and western flanks of Petrel Peak, Macquarie Island (Copson 1988). The Grey-headed Albatross has bred in this same restricted area on Macquarie Island for at least the past 30 years (Terauds et al. 2005). This nesting area has been included on the EPBC Act register of Critical Habitat. Macquarie Island is classified as a World Heritage Area, a Biosphere reserve and a National Estate property. The entire island is also classified as a Tasmanian Nature Reserve and is managed by the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (TSSC 2009cu, 2009cv).

Breeding and non-breeding birds disperse widely across the Southern Ocean, at more southerly latitudes in summer than in winter, when they frequent the waters off southern Australia and New Zealand (Marchant & Higgins 1990; Waugh et al. 1999a). Most Australian records come from south and west of Tasmania, occasionally in Victorian waters, rarely in South Australia and Western Australia, and only as a vagrant in NSW. It has only been recorded once in southern Queensland (DEWHA 2009s; Marchant & Higgins 1990).

Extent of occurence and area of occupancy
Globally, the estimated extent of occurence of Grey-headed Albatrosses is 79 000 000 km², and their estimated area of occupancy is 1800 km² (BirdLife International 2009a). Within Australian territory, the species' nesting area is restricted to the south-western corner of Macquarie Island, on the slopes of Petrel Peak and adjacent areas, comprising an area of occupancy of approximately 0.12 km² (Terauds et al. 2005).

It is assumed that there is little genetic interchange between breeding populations of the Grey-headed Albatross in Australian territory and extralimital populations (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The Grey-headed Albatross has a circum-global distribution in the Southern Hemisphere. The species breeds in subantarctic island colonies ranging from less than 100 breeding pairs to several thousand breeding pairs in South Georgia, Chilean offshore islands, Iles Kerguelen, Iles Crozet, Marion Island, Prince Edward Island, Campbell Island and Macquarie Island (Gales 1998). During the breeding period adults travel hundreds or thousands of kilometres from the colony in order to obtain food for their offspring (Prince et al. 1998; Weimerskirch et al. 1988).

Global population
BirdLife International (2009a) estimates approximately 99 000 pairs of Grey-headed Albatrosses breed each year, which is equivalent to at least 250 000 mature individuals (Brooke 2004; Croxall & Gales 1998) or 600 000 individuals in total (DEWHA 2009s). This global population estimate is based on annual breeding population estimates of 48 000 pairs on South Georgia (Poncet et al. 2006), approximately 6200 pairs on Marion Island (Crawford et al. 2003, although noting that number of pairs fluctuates between years), 3000 pairs on Prince Edward Island (Ryan et al. 2003, cited in BirdLife International 2009a), 7800 pairs on Campbell Island (Moore 2004, cited in BirdLife International 2009a), 16 408 pairs in Chile (Arata & Moreno 2002, cited in BirdLife International 2009a), and populations on Macquarie Island, Crozet and Kerguelen as given in Gales (1998) (84, 5940 and 7905 pairs respectively).

Australian population
Between 60 and 95 pairs of Grey-headed Albatross breed on Macquarie Island each year, representing a total breeding population of approximately 120–150 breeding pairs representing approximately 0.15% of the global breeding population (Terauds et al. 2005). The Macquarie Island population is not genetically distinct from the global population (Burg & Croxall 2001) and are likely to move throughout the Southern Hemisphere during the non-breeding season (Terauds et al. 2006).

Population trend
The global population size of the Grey-headed Albatross is decreasing with an estimated overall decline of approximately 30–49% over three generations (90 years), probably largely owing to mortality on longline fisheries (BirdLife International 2009a, DEWHA 2009s).

The Macquarie Island population of Grey-headed Albatrosses appears to have increased since the early 1900s and remained stable since 1994 (TSSC 2009cu). However, the number of chicks successfully fledged has fluctuated widely (9–54) and recruitment to the breeding population is extremely low (Copson 1988; EA 2001f; Gales 1998; Terauds & Hume 1997).

The generation length of the Grey-headed Albatross is estimated to be 25–30 years (BirdLife International 2009a; Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The Grey-headed Albatross is marine, pelagic and migratory. Its habitat includes subantarctic, subtropical, and occasionally Antarctic waters in the Pacific, Indian, Atlantic and Southern Oceans (del Hoyo et al. 1992; Marchant & Higgins 1990). Non-breeding and immature Grey-headed Albatrosses disperse widely over the Southern Ocean, mostly between 35–65° S (del Hoyo et al. 1992). During summer, they feed mainly in the cold waters on either side of the Antarctic Convergence in the subantarctic and Antarctic seas, avoiding pack ice, between 46–64° S (Ainley et al. 1984; Hicks 1973; Weimerskirch et al. 1986; Zink 1981a). In winter, most leave the Antarctic Zone and their range extends into the warmer southern Subtropics between 39–51° S (Amiet 1958; Brown et al. 1975; Secker 1969). Along the South American coast the species occurs 4–30 km offshore in the cool Humboldt Current north to 15° S (Jehl 1973). In the Cook Strait, New Zealand, the species concentrate over tidal rips (Secker 1969).

Grey-headed Albatrosses fly low to fairly high over open waters, using updraft from wave fronts for lift (Marchant & Higgins 1990). They remain at sea outside of the breeding season (Marchant & Higgins 1990) and generally only come onto land to find a nest site, find a mate and to breed (TSSC 2009cu). Juvenile Grey-headed Albatrosses spend up to 11 years at sea before returning to their natal island (Marchant & Higgins 1990).

Grey-headed Albatrosses breed on subantarctic and Antarctic islands of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans and seas south of New Zealand (Marchant & Higgins 1990). Nests are found on tussock-covered cliffs, steep slopes and hillsides overlooking the sea, or run inland from the coast (Grindley 1981; Rand 1954; Weimerskirch et al. 1988) and they often nest among Black-browed Albatrosses (Marchant & Higgins 1990). The nest is a column of packed soil and grass with a bowl-shaped depression at the top. Material is gathered from around the nest, sometimes from nearby nests, which can lead to fierce fights (Marchant & Higgins 1990). On Macquarie Island, the breeding slopes are usually covered in the tussock grass Poa foliosa (Scott & Kirkpatrick 2008, cited in TSSC 2009cu) and this nesting area has been included on the EPBC Act Register of Critical Habitat (TSSC 2009cu).

Grey-headed Albatrosses are biennial breeders. However, this depends on the breeding success of the previous year, as failed breeders tend to renest the following year (Hector et al. 1986; Prince et al. 1994a). Most Grey-headed Albatrosses establish pair-bonds between 4–11 years of age and generally reach sexual maturity at approximately 7–8 years of age (Copson 1988; Marchant & Higgins 1990). The age at first breeding on Macquarie Island is usually 10 years of age (Terauds et al. 2005).
Adults return to the breeding grounds from early September to early October. Older, more experienced birds often return before younger breeders (Tickell & Pinder 1975; Weimerskirch et al. 1986). At Macquarie Island Grey-headed Albatrosses return after September 12 (Copson 1988), signalling the beginning of a breeding season that lasts for 10–11 months. Pairs build their nests about 1–2 m apart in dispersed colonies. The egg is laid between October 6 and October 28. The 72 day incubation period is shared by both adults in shifts averaging 5–15 days. Hatchlings emerge from mid December to mid January to be brooded almost constantly for 18–28 days (Prince et al. 1994a; Tickell & Pinder 1975).

The offspring achieve independence after 141–152 days, fledging between late April and mid June, depending on breeding locality (Prince et al. 1994a; Tickell & Pinder 1975). At Macquarie Island all juveniles and adults have departed the breeding grounds by late May (Copson 1988). The Grey-headed Albatross is monogamous, with pairs bonding for life (Marchant & Higgins 1990), however, there is evidence of extra-pair paternity in approximately 3–10% of chicks in South Georgia (Burg & Croxall 2006, cited in DEWHA 2009s).

The diet of the Grey-headed Albatross varies geographically and includes fish, squid, crustaceans, penguin carrion and lampreys (Cherel & Klages 1998; Reid et al. 1996; Rodhouse et al. 1990). Most prey is taken by surface-seizing (Wood 1992). Prince and colleagues (1994b) also discovered that Grey-headed Albatrosses can also dive to at least 6 m below the surface, and swim underwater for up to 11 seconds, in search of prey.
Foraging of the Grey-headed Albatross is primarily away from the continental shelf (Prince et al. 1998). They are generally pelagic, feeding far from shelf waters around breeding islands and continental land masses (Rand 1963; Weimerskirch et al. 1986, 1988). However, they occasionally occur in inshore and offshore waters in the Australasian region (Barton 1979; Secker 1969). The birds frequently forage behind fishing boats (Brothers 1991; EA 2001f; Reid et al. 1996).

During the incubation period the adults travel long distances to feed in oceanic waters. However, during the brooding period, the adults forage closer to the nesting site. The parents return to oceanic feeding once the chick is able to be left unattended, but continue to provide for the chick until it fledges (TSSC 2009cu). Once fledged, the adults spend the rest of the year foraging at sea (Marchant & Higgins 1990). Phillips and colleagues (2004) described sexual segregation during incubation, with largely mutually exclusive core foraging ranges for each sex of Grey-headed Albatrosses. In the Kerguelen Islands, dietary differences also suggest interspecific segregation of foraging areas (Cherel et al. 2002, cited in DEWHA 2009s).

The Grey-headed Albatross is migratory, though the pattern of movement away from breeding islands is poorly understood (Marchant & Higgins 1990). There is some dispersal north in winter, outside the breeding period, when few remain in Antarctic waters and many cross the Subtropical Convergence (Jouventin et al. 1982). Recoveries suggest that adults remain in the Subantarctic Zone, while juveniles and immatures extend to southern subtropical waters (Marchant & Higgins 1990). Immatures from South Georgia may circumnavigate Antarctica (Tickell 1964), but those from Campbell Island have been recovered near Australia and New Zealand (Marchant & Higgins 1990). Numbers beachcast on the New Zealand coast peak between July and October. They are thought to be newly fledged young from Campbell Island (Powlesland 1985).

Breeding adults travel enormous distances in search of prey for the chick. The maximum foraging ranges of Grey-headed Albatrosses breeding on Bird Island (South Georgia) have been recorded to be 500–800 km (Prince & Francis 1984; Rodhouse et al. 1990). At Prince Edward Island, Grey-headed Albatrosses have been observed foraging 350 km from the nest (Hunter & Klages 1989), while at the Crozet-Kerguelen area, dyed birds have been seen foraging some 1850 km from their nest (Weimerskirch et al. 1986, 1988). During the non-breeding season, Grey-headed Albatrosses from South Georgia have been recorded making one or more global circumnavigations, the fastest in just 46 days (Croxall et al. 2005, cited in DEWHA 2009s).

Distinctiveness
Adult Grey-headed Albatrosses are similar to the Black-browed Albatross (T. melanophris) and can be distinguised by the Black-browed Albatross's mainly white head and paler base of the bill (Marchant & Higgins 1990), Buller's Albatross (T. bulleri) which can be distinguished by its underwing pattern (BirdLife International 2009a) and the Yellow-nosed Albatross (D. chlororhynchos) which can be distinguished by the yellow stripe on the bill confined to the culmin and having narrow straight black margins on the underwing (Marchant & Higgins 1990). Immature birds of these species are difficult to distinguish (BirdLife International 2009a).

Detectability
Grey-headed Albatrosses are conspicuous at sea and on land and are vocal at colonies where they make loud croaks and wails (Marchant & Higgins 1990).

The greatest threat to Grey-headed Albatrosses is accidental mortality due to fisheries related bycatch in longline fisheries, trawl fisheries, driftnetting and trolling operations (TSSC 2009cv).

Longline fisheries
Oceanic longline fishing has been used to target pelagic and demersal fish in the southern oceans since the 1950s, and is used in almost all Australian waters today (AGDEH 2006q). Gales and Brothers (1995) reported that 75% of the birds killed on longlines and retained for identification were albatrosses. Internationally, some longline fishing fleets still operate without substantial bycatch mitigation measures. Therefore, birds breeding within the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) are still killed on longlines from vessels operating outside the AFZ (EA 2001f).

In southern waters, Japanese longline fisheries alone are estimated to kill more than 1375 Grey-headed Albatrosses per year, with at least 100–500 of these deaths occurring in the Australian Fishing Zone (Brothers 1991; EA 2001f; Klaer & Polacheck 1997). The projected expansion of the longline industry in the high seas is likely to increase the impact on the species (EA 2001f; Gales 1993; Prince et al. 1998).

Within the Australian jurisdiction, implementation of the Threat Abatement Plan for the Incidental Catch (or bycatch) of Seabirds during Oceanic Longline Fishing Operations (AGDEH 2006q) has significantly reduced levels of albatross bycatch from longlining, such that it is currently not considered to be a major threat within Australian waters (DEWHA 2009s). An analysis of Macquarie Island population data from 1975 to 2005 found that longline fishing was not likely to have significantly impacted on the Macquarie Island population (Terauds et al. 2005). However, even though it currently may not be significant, accidental mortality due to fisheries related bycatch is still a threat to the small Macquarie Island population in international waters where actions to mitigate fisheries related bycatch are not enforced (DEWHA 2009s)

Other fisheries
Trolling, trailing a line with baited hooks, for pelagic species such as Albacore Tuna (Thunnus alalunga) is another potential threat (EA 2001f; Gales 1998; Weimerskirch & Jouventin 1998). The survival of the species may also be threatened by expansion of commercial squid fishing operations in the Southern Ocean (EA 2001f; Gales 1998; Garnett & Crowley 2000; Marchant & Higgins 1990; Prince et al. 1998).

Grey-headed Albatrosses may also die from collisions with cables and warps used on fishing trawlers. Outside of the AFZ, trawlers carrying netsonde monitor cables or their equivalent may cause substantial mortality in albatrosses (EA 2001f; Gales 1998; Weimerskirch & Jouventin 1998).

Litter ingestion
Hook and plastic ingestion also potentially threaten the Grey-headed Albatross. Between 50 and 100 million hooks are set each year in the Southern Ocean and as many as 1.1 billion hooks are set globally. Both seabirds and fishing vessels concentrate in areas of high biological productivity (EA 2001f). Grey-headed Albatrosses have been observed regurgitating fishing gear and plastic debris to their chicks on breeding sites outside of Australia (EA 2001f; Huin & Croxall 1996, cited in DEWHA 2009s). This can potentially impact on breeding success because the large amounts of fisheries litter consumed by chicks can lead to their poor condition and death.

Rabbits
The major, imminent, threat to the Macquarie Island population of Grey-headed Albatross is breeding habitat reduction due to grazing by the European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Grazing by rabbits has severely degraded the quality of the Grey-headed Albatross' nesting habitat, leading to high levels of erosion, little remaining tussock, and an increased frequency of landslides reducing available nesting habitat (TSSC 2009cv). The grazing and resultant slope instability has the potential to lower breeding success on Macquarie Island as landslips remove vegetation and soil cover, exposing rock or clay, which the albatrosses are unable to nest on (Trebilco et al. 2007, cited in TSSC 2009cv).

Other threats
When migrating through the East Marine Region, Grey-headed Albatrosses may also be at risk from a loss of food stock, ingestion or being caught in marine debris, oil spills, pollution and commercial fishing that occurs within the region (DEWHA 2009m). The species may also be shot by fishermen to protect bait or for sport (EA 2001f; Gales 1998). An albatross chick is unlikely to survive if a parent is killed while it is foraging at sea (Marchant & Higgins 1990).

Human disturbance may also be a threat (EA 2001f). On Macquarie Island, some nest attempts have been abandoned as a consequence of scientific activity. It is possible that the disturbance to an adult Grey-headed Albatross caused the subsequent failure of its chick in 1995–96 (EA 2001f). Earlier population decreases were a result of hunting and egg-collecting (Gales 1998).

The incidental catch of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations was listed as a key threatening process under the EPBC Act. The Department of the Environment and Heritage developed the Threat Abatement Plan 2006 for the Incidental Catch (or bycatch) of Seabirds During Oceanic Longline Fishing Operations (AGDEH 2006q). The threat abatement plan aims to reduce seabird bycatch to below 0.05 seabirds per thousand hooks (a reduction of up to 90% of seabird bycatch within the AFZ) within five years by:

  • Mitigation - Effective measures will be put in place, both through legislative frameworks and fishing practices, to ensure the rate of seabird bycatch is continually reduced.
  • Education - Results from data analysis will be communicated throughout the community, stakeholder groups and international forums, and programs will be established that provide information and education to longline operators.
  • International Initiatives - Global adoption of seabird bycatch mitigation targets and methods will be pursued through international conservation and fisheries management fora.
  • Research and Development - Research into new mitigation measures and their development, trialling and assessment will be supported through the granting of individual permits and the potential certification of new measures to apply throughout a fishery.
  • Innovation - Potential individual accreditation of longline operators who are able to demonstrate `bird-friendly' fishing practices will be supported.

The long-term aim is to achieve zero bycatch of seabirds in longline fisheries, especially of threatened albatross and petrel species.

The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts is updating the National Recovery Plan for Threatened Albatrosses and Giant Petrels 2009-2014 (DEWHA 2009s). The overall objective of the recovery plan is to ensure the long term survival and recovery of Albatross and Giant Petrel populations breeding and foraging in Australian jurisdiction by reducing or eliminating human related threats at sea and on land.

This will be achieved through the following specific objectives:

  • Research and monitor the biology, ecology and population dynamics of Albatrosses and Giant Petrels breeding within Australian jurisdiction to understand conservation status and to implement effective and efficient conservation measures.
  • Quantify and reduce land-based threats to the survival and breeding success of Albatrosses and Giant Petrels breeding within areas under Australian jurisdiction.
  • Quantify and reduce marine-based threats to the survival and breeding success of Albatrosses and Giant Petrels foraging in waters under Australian jurisdiction.
  • Educate fishers and raise public awareness on the threats to Albatrosses and Giant Petrels.
  • Promote and develop favourable conservation status of Albatrosses and Giant Petrels globally in international conservation and fishing fora.

In particular for the Grey-headed Albatross (DEWHA 2009s):

  • Maintain existing population monitoring programs on Macquarie Island measuring demographic and breeding parameters.
  • Initiate genetic profiling programs of populations breeding on Macquarie Island.

In June 2007, the Australian and Tasmanian governments agreed to provide $24.6 million to completely eradicate the European Rabbit, the Black Rat (Rattus rattus) and the House Mouse (Mus musculus) from Macquarie Island. It is anticipated that necessary logistical preparations will be completed in 2010. Once the plan has been implemented, it is anticipated that it will take at least five years to eradicate rabbits and rodents from Macquarie Island (TPWS 2007, cited in TSSC 2009cv).

The Action Plan for Australian Birds (Garnett & Crowley 2000), the Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant-Petrels 2001–2005 (EA 2001f), the Conservation Advice for Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (TSSC 2009cv), and the Draft National Recovery Plan for Threatened Albatrosses and Giant Petrels 2009–2014 (DEWHA 2009s) provide guides to threat abatement and management strategies for the Grey-headed Albatross.

The Threat Abatement Plan 2006 for the Incidental Catch (or bycatch) of Seabirds During Oceanic Longline Fishing Operations (AGDEH 2006q), the Threat abatement plan for the impacts of marine debris on vertebrate marine life (DEWHA 2009t), and The East Marine Bioregional Plan, Bioregional Profile (DEWHA 2009m) also provide guidance.

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
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation Commonwealth Listing Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cu) [Listing Advice].
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].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cu) [Listing Advice].
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:Illegal take 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 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].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cu) [Listing Advice].
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].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cu) [Listing Advice].
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].
Fishing gear, oil and marine debris associated with seabirds at Bird Island South Georgia, during 1993/94. Marine Ornithology. 24:190-194. (Huin, N. & J.P. Croxall, 1996) [Journal].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cu) [Listing Advice].
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].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cu) [Listing Advice].
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].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cu) [Listing Advice].
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 loss, modification and/or degradation Commonwealth Listing Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cu) [Listing Advice].
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].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cu) [Listing Advice].
Ecosystem/Community Stresses:Ecosystem Degradation:Habitat deterioration due to soil degradation and erosion Commonwealth Listing Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cu) [Listing Advice].
Geological Events:Avalanches/Landslides:Habitat modification due to landslides Commonwealth Listing Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cu) [Listing Advice].
Geological Events:Earthquakes/Tsunamis: Commonwealth Listing Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cu) [Listing Advice].
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].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cu) [Listing Advice].
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].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cu) [Listing Advice].
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].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cu) [Listing Advice].
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].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cu) [Listing Advice].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Introduction of pathogens and resultant disease Commonwealth Listing Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cu) [Listing Advice].
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].
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:unspecified 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 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].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Presence of pathogens and resultant disease Commonwealth Listing Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cu) [Listing Advice].
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:Garbage and Solid Waste:Ingestion and entanglement with marine debris 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].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Thalassarche chrysostoma (Grey-headed Albatross) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2009cu) [Listing Advice].
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].

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EPBC Act email updates can be received via the Communities for Communities newsletter and the EPBC Act newsletter.

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). Thalassarche chrysostoma in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Sat, 23 Aug 2014 20:27:01 +1000.