Albatross Conservation

Albatross Conservation

  • Description

Set Part No: ST011843
CTO Part No: ST011844
FDC Part No: ST01845
S/S Part No: ST011846
S/S CTO Part No: ST011847

Albatrosses are amongst the most iconic species of the Southern Ocean. South
Georgia is home to globally significant populations of wandering, black-browed,
grey-headed and light-mantled albatrosses. These species are highly protected at
South Georgia, both on land and at sea in our Marine Protected Area.
The population trends of South Georgia’s albatrosses are closely monitored at
selected sites each year. This annual monitoring is complemented by
archipelago-wide surveys every ten years or so, except for light-mantled albatrosses,
whose dispersed breeding distribution make them difficult to survey. The most
recent archipelago-wide survey was undertaken during the 2014/15 breeding season.
The results of this survey revealed that the number of wandering albatrosses
breeding annually at South Georgia decreased by 18% (1.8% per year) from 1,553
pairs in 2003/2004 to an estimated 1,278 pairs in 2014/2015. Over the same period,
black-browed and grey-headed albatrosses decreased by 19% (1.9% per year) and
43% (5% per year), respectively. These represent a continuation of negative trends at
South Georgia since the 1970s, and are in contrast to some populations elsewhere,
which have shown signs of recent recovery. The main cause has been attributed to
incidental mortality associated with fisheries operating outside of South Georgia’s
maritime zone.
The Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) has
ratified via the United Kingdom (UK) Government, and actively participates in the
work of, the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP).
ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve albatrosses and petrels by
coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.
GSGSSI has also collaborated with the fishing industry to protect albatross in the
waters around South Georgia. Modern fisheries management techniques have all but
eliminated seabird bycatch in the maritime zone. Vessels fishing in South Georgia’s
maritime zone are required to use a variety of seabird bycatch mitigation measures
aimed at reducing or preventing bycatch. These include the use of bird-scaring
devices and night setting, the use of which has helped reduce the bycatch of seabirds
to negligible levels. This success has helped support the designation of the South
Georgia toothfish fishery as the highest-scoring Marine Stewardship Council
certified fishery in the world. However, the extensive at-sea range of albatrosses,
extending many thousands of miles, brings them into contact with other, less
well-managed, fisheries.

GSGSSI is now looking to better understand and address these external threats, and
is delighted to be working in conjunction with the Royal Society for the Protection of
Birds (RSPB) to undertake an initial study that will identify where and when
albatrosses are at risk so as to better target education, conservation and monitoring

Black-browed albatross
Breeding on inaccessible cliffs and tussock covered slopes, these birds are generally
surveyed by photographing colonies from the sea, and subsequently counting
nesting birds from the digital photographs. Outside the breeding season the birds
spend considerable time foraging in the productive waters of the Benguela Current,
off southern Africa where they overlap with, and are at risk of being incidentally
killed by a number of long-line and trawl fisheries.

Light-mantled albatross
Unlike the other species of albatross breeding at South Georgia, breeding
light-mantled albatross are dispersed in low numbers around the entire coastline
making it very difficult to monitor their population trends. Nevertheless, South
Georgia is known to host the largest population of light-mantled albatross in the
world. Considered to be the most southerly of all the albatross species, these birds
often forage close to the Antarctic.

Grey-headed albatross
Often found nesting on high cliffs in mixed groups with black-browed albatross,
grey-headed albatrosses only breed every other year making their populations
particularly vulnerable to ongoing declines. Known to travel great distances outside
of the breeding season, better understanding of where these birds forage at different
stages of their life-cycle is critical to understanding what fisheries they come into
contact with and where to target conservation efforts.

Wandering albatross
Wandering albatrosses are one of the largest flying birds in the world and have a
wingspan of up to 3.5m. It takes an entire year to raise a chick. Nesting in small
groups on isolated headlands and tussock islands, the majority of birds breeding at
South Georgia are found on Bird Island and Annenkov Island, with other colonies
located in the Bay of Isles and along the southern coast of the archipelago. Surveying
these long-lived species requires good local knowledge and great care to avoid
disturbing the birds or the habitat in which they nest.

Technical Details
Artist: Leigh-Anne Wolfaardt
Printer: Cartor Security Printing
Process: Stochastic lithography
Perforation: 13 ¼ x 13 per 2cms
Stamp size: 38 x 30.6mm
Sheet Layout: 10
Souvenir Sheet size: 164 x 136mm
Release date: 25 June, 2017

Production Co-ordination: Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd
RSPB crest and name © RSPB and reproduced with authorisation of RSPB,
registered trademark owner