Wandering albatross long-term monitoring
- The focal point of the South Georgia Surveys research programme is the annual census of wandering albatrosses on Albatross and Prion Islands, South Georgia.
The wandering albatross population on these two islands has been studied annually since 1999 and the results show a steadily declining population. This decline is confirmed by British Antarctic Survey research at Bird Island at the northwest end of South Georgia. Censuses here began in the 1960s and show that each year, on average, there are approximately 5% fewer birds nesting than the previous year. Photographs like the one below, explain why the birds are disappearing, hooked on long-lines in unregulated fisheries.
This hook, protruding from the eye socket of a wanderer, was successfully removed by scientists at Bird Island.
The Albatross and Prion Islands programme is supported by the South Georgia Government, The Protect Our Poles Fund (administered by the Calgary Zoo) and the Antarctic Research Trust ART.
The aims of the programme are:
- To monitor the distribution and abundance of wandering albatross breeding pairs and display nests on Albatross and Prion Islands.
- To monitor the breeding distribution and abundance of northern and southern giant petrels on Prion Island and at a study site on Albatross Island.
- To record the breeding success of wanderers on Prion Island.
- To record the areas impacted by fur seals on Albatross and Prion Islands, and to assess damage to vegetation.
- To monitor the distribution and abundance of light-mantled sooty albatrosses on Albatross and Prion Islands.
One of the outputs of the programme is the acquisition of information about the extent to which fur seal activity and the visitor boardwalk and management may be affecting nest abundance, distribution and breeding success of wanderers on Prion Island.
Click here to find out more about the British Antarctic Survey's research programme at Bird Island, and for the latest from BAS scientists, the UKOTCF and SGS South Georgia Surveys about the decline in South Georgia's wandering albatrosses.