Albatross Frequent-Flyer Program
A geolocator being deployed on a grey-headed albatross. Image courtesy of British Antarctic Survey
Where do albatrosses, the famous globe-circling birds, go for the 18 months between breeding seasons? Some fly around the world, others loop the globe twice and still others stay relatively close to their breeding grounds in the southern reaches of the Atlantic Ocean, according to a new study in the 14 January 2005 issue of the journal Science.
By tracking albatross movements during a nonbreeding period, the British scientists identified additional, potentially critical habitats used by gray-headed albatrosses a member of the world's most threatened family of birds. Albatrosses are well known for their extreme foraging trips around the Southern Ocean during the breeding season, but little is known about their activities outside the breeding season.
John Croxall and colleagues mounted light-level loggers on the legs of gray-headed albatrosses at the end of a breeding season. After 18 months or more, the researchers successfully retrieved the light loggers and downloaded daily albatross location information for 22 birds.
The new findings on albatross migration routes reinforce the message that protecting albatross and petrel species requires appropriate mitigation measures to be used in longline fisheries in all oceans below 30 south latitude, the authors write.
Daniel B. Kane
13 January 2005