Published 19th June 2020

World Albatross Day, 19 June 2020

An Endangered Sooty Albatross Phoebetria fusca tends its chick. Photograph by Michelle Risi, Gough Island Restoration Programme

Today, 19 June, marks the first ever World Albatross Day.  The day pays tribute to these magnificent birds.  However, these are also troubling times.

Many albatross species are facing threats from mice, rats, cats and pigs which were introduced on islands where the Albatross breed.  Fishing gear is also a major issue with thousands of albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters lost every year.

A global effort is needed to raise awareness of and combat these issues..

Signed 20 years ago, the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) is a multilateral treaty seeking to conserve albatrosses and petrels by coordinating international activity to mitigate threats to their populations.   The UK ratified ACAP in 2004, and includes the British Antarctic Territory (BAT) along with other UK South Atlantic Overseas Territories.

We work on ACAP through the UK’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC).  The JNCC ensure that we remain effectively engaged in ACAP’s ongoing work and initiatives. Dr Megan Tierney from JNCC says

“Almost nothing beats the sight of an albatross soaring effortlessly over mountainous seas, not the sound or smell of their colonies at the height of the chick-rearing season. Working with colleagues from government, science and industry across the UK, our overseas territories and other nations to improve conservation efforts of these marvellous and humbling seabirds is a privilege.”

Albatross are regular visitors to the British Antarctic Territory, and there are reports of the light-mantled albatross breeding on one of the Territory’s islands. The Territory is also home to 20% of the global breeding population of the ACAP-listed Southern Giant Petrel.

Southern Giant Petrels with Adélie penguins