• Chile introduces vital regulation to save seabirds

    At the end of August, Chile introduced new regulations to reduce seabird bycatch in its trawl fleets. This is a vital and welcome step towards protecting albatross in the Pacific (such as the black-browed albatross from the Diego Ramirez archipelago in the picture below) and represents another milestone for the Albatross Task Force programme.

    Photo Credit: Cristian G.Suazo

    Much like the law introduced in Argentina last…

    • 17 Oct 2019
  • Glide into the danger zone

    How tracking technology is improving our understanding of at-sea threats to seabirds

    Over the last three to four decades, industrial fisheries have expanded into far-flung oceans in search of lucrative fish such as bluefin tuna. Larger fishing areas and more fishing vessels have increased the likelihood of fatal interactions between boats, hooks and birds. It is estimated that around 100,000 albatrosses are killed each…

    • 8 Aug 2019
  • Seabird-friendly fishers in the making

    When our Albatross Task Force instructors are not monitoring seabirds out at sea, they spend their time teaching fishers about seabird conservation and bycatch mitigation in key ports across South America and southern Africa. 

    In Brazil, our instructors are based in port towns in the south-eastern part of the country. This is an important foraging area for many albatrosses and petrels breeding in the south Atlantic. But…

    • 24 Jul 2019
  • Celebrating World Oceans Day in Namibia

     Last weekend saw the towns of Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Henties Bay come together to celebrate World Oceans Day 2019. And there really is a lot to celebrate this year in Namibia – with the ATF team having demonstrated massive bycatch reductions in one of the deadliest fisheries for albatross in the world, previously estimated to be killing 30,000 birds each year!

    To the left: ATF team leader Samantha Matjila and…

    • 13 Jun 2019
  • When one size does not fit all : A new bird-scaring line design for small longline vessels in South Africa

    Bird-scaring Lines (BSLs) have become the primary and most commonly prescribed seabird bycatch mitigation measure in longline fisheries worldwide. These are usually composed of a backbone section, colourful streamers and a drag section or towing device. They are extremely effective at reducing seabird bycatch since they scare foraging birds away from the “danger zone” in which baited hooks are close to the surface and…

    • 22 May 2019
  • “Wandering” about those albatrosses Attenborough was talking about?

    I am guessing many of you will have been glued to your screens over the last few weeks, watching the new Our Planet series on Netflix – I certainly have!

    The highlight for me was of course the gorgeous Wandering Albatross from South Georgia, featured in the Frozen Worlds and High Seas episodes. Their massive wingspans, impressive life history and sheer beauty are mesmerising even to those of us lucky enough to study…

    • 26 Apr 2019
  • Help name our albatross stars!

    This year the Albatross Task Force is following the lives of four albatross species breeding on Bird Island, South Georgia. Help us come up with names for them by March 19th!

     The four species we're following are Grey-headed Albatrosses, Wandering Albatross, Light-mantled Albatross and Black-browed Albatross. We have been working with an artist in Japan to create cartoons of these four species so that you can become more…

    • 5 Mar 2019
  • Sharing our love of nature and marine conservation

    For the past two years I have been teaching schoolchildren in Mar del Plata (Argentina) about albatrosses and petrels. I am always touched by the enthusiasm and astonishment in the faces of the girls and boys who participate in these learning activities, no matter how old they are.

    At one point I ask them to close their eyes. This is one of my favourite moments. While they have their eyes closed, I take out a life-sized…

    • 30 Jan 2019
  • New life on Bird Island this Christmas

    The wandering albatross breeding season on Bird Island (South Georgia) has officially begun, with the first egg being laid last week! The bird in question has never bred on Bird Island before, but was ringed as a chick there back in 2008. It looks like she has finally returned home this Christmas to take on the responsibility of parenthood – 10 years later!

     The new parent and her chick will need all the luck they…

    • 19 Dec 2018
  • Surviving the high seas aboard a Japanese-South African joint-venture vessel

    I recently embarked on a Japanese joint-venture voyage from Cape Town. On-board were six Japanese, 16 Indonesians and a South African. This motley crew was to become my only human connection for the next two months! The South African crew member, fluent in both Indonesian and Japanese, was to become my language bridge in this lingo pandemonium. His high tempo, effervescent Wikipedia attitude kept me entertained and I…

    • 19 Nov 2018
  • Working to reduce seabird and turtle bycatch in Brazil

    Bycatch in longline fisheries is a major source of mortality for albatrosses and large petrel species, many of which are already endangered. It is estimated that over 300,000 seabirds are killed by longline fisheries globally every year, as the birds become caught on fishing hooks while they scavenge for the bait being set by the fishermen at the stern of vessel.

    Like thousands of others, this black-browed albatross…

    • 22 Oct 2018
  • Finding my Pacific sea legs

    Last week I returned from my trip on Abate Molina – a scientific research vessel owned by the Fisheries Development Institute (IFOP) in Chile. Although I have been working with the Albatross Task Force for over ten years, this was the first time I was on such a boat. In fact, being Argentinian, it was the first time I sailed through the waters of the South Pacific Ocean!

    I spent 20 days testing bird scaring lines…

    • 10 Sep 2018
  • A new wave of collaboration for ATF teams in South America

    This austral winter has brought positive change for the ATF teams working to reduce seabird bycatch in South America. In Argentina and Chile we have been working hard to put together a collaborative conservation effort to help save vulnerable seabirds in the Humboldt Current system - an unprecedented international cooperation in the history of the ATF!

    The idea of a transnational collaboration first came about when the…

    • 15 Aug 2018
  • Exciting times in Namibia!

    I am sitting with Titus Shaanika, one of our Albatross Task Force Instructors, at his desk in the Namibia Nature Foundation Regional Office, Walvis Bay. It is covered in seabird bycatch data entry forms, letters from government officials and an agenda packed with meetings with fishing company representatives. Outside the winter winds are howling - bringing sand and hot air from the East to this little dusty harbour town…

    • 6 Jul 2018
  • Starting a new chapter with the Albatross Task Force

    The last couple of months have involved a lot of change for me personally and for the ATF team as a whole. With new people coming on-board and regulations changing in the countries we work in, exciting times lie ahead and we want to share it all with...
    • 8 Jun 2018
  • The unshakeable resilience of Chilean fishermen

    Some time ago I wrote about the challenges for small scale fishers in Chile, who are represented by fragile working conditions and confront stormy waters in the ironically named Pacific Ocean.

    I have always tried to highlight the role of small scale fishers as providing an important source of nutrition and tourism for local economies, as well as holding a wealth of knowledge that is relevant for future marine conservation…

    • 28 Sep 2015
  • Proud to Be a Fisherman

    My last trip was aboard a vessel that prides itself on doing everything possible to reduce seabird bycatch ~ the FV Harvest Nandi. I was highly impressed with the attitudes and knowledge of the entire crew – from the skipper to the factory men, deckhands to engineers – they were all conscious about seabirds and the importance of preventing endangered species’ extinctions. I think this stems from direct and constant involvement…

    • 22 Jul 2015
  • Seabird and turtle bycatch in northern Chile

    Mummified remains in the Atacama Desert suggest the first Andean tribes ventured closer to the coast some 7,000 BC, attracted by the plentiful and accessible marine resources. Today, the most northerly city in Chile is still an important fishing port, with numerous purse seine and gillnet vessels active all year, as well as other coastal ventures that include seaweed and shell fish gathering, plus a growing marine tourism…

    • 19 May 2015
  • ATF promote sustainable fishing in Namibia

    Last week our very own Clemens Naomab of our Albatross Task Force team in Namibia attended the "Fishtival", an event aimed at providing all stakeholders in the fishing/seafood/marine products sector with a platform to display or market their products and services. Clemens, pictured below,  set up an Albatross Task Force stall to enable closer contact with fishing industry and local community, reaching beyond…

    • 9 Apr 2015
  • Albatrosses and attitudes

    One afternoon as my observations were coming to an end the first mate came to chat with me at the stern. He sees me sitting at the back of the boat days on end, staring at birds. “You’re job looks boring” he said, and I was quick to point out that not all birds were the same. I showed him the differences between a Black-browed albatross and a Yellow-nosed albatross and I could see his interest piquing. “I heard these…

    • 1 Apr 2015
  • Seabird bycatch in Chile: impacts and reduction strategies

    As part of the wider work conducted by ATF instructors in our home countries, I have recently led on an initiative to publish relevant information on seabird bycatch in Chilean fisheries. The resulting work describes Chile's globally important colonies of endangered and endemic seabird species, and globally vulnerable nonbreeding species that visit our waters. One of the major threats for seabirds in Chilean waters is…

    • 1 Mar 2015
  • I can move mountains and leap over oceans

    Today I am not going to brag about all the amazing and rare seabirds that I see (I see Wandering Albatross when I am at sea!) and all the whales, dolphins and sharks that I encountered on my journeys at sea. Today I want to share with you how conducting at-sea trials changed my perspective on life. I want to tell you about how changing the fate of seabirds has changed my fate.

    Below: A Wandering albatross, Bokamoso …

    • 11 Nov 2014
  • Namibia takes positive steps to reduce seabird mortality in hake fisheries

    Incidental bycatch in fisheries constitutes the major threat for many vulnerable populations of seabirds. Globally 300,000 seabirds are killed in longline and trawl fisheries where they are hooked and drown on baited hooks or are struck by trawl cables and dragged under water. Approximately 100,000 of these birds are albatross, the most threatened family of birds with 15 of 22 species at risk of extinction.

    The Albatross…

    • 1 Nov 2014
  • BirdLife South Africa’s Dr Ross Wanless wins Environmentalist of the Year award

    The prestigious SAB Environmentalist of the Year Award was made to Dr Ross Wanless, from BirdLife South Africa’s Seabird Conservation Programme, at a ceremony in Johannesburg yesterday. Dr Wanless has overseen a number of impressive conservation achievements over the past six years at BirdLife South Africa, building on a career of seabird science and conservation work that started in 1997. Dr Wanless was unable to receive…

    • 24 Oct 2014
  • New trials to save albatross begin in the Argentina trawl fishery

    The status of the world’s seabirds has deteriorated rapidly over recent decades and several species and many populations are now threatened with extinction. Last information from BirdLife International’s data and assessment for the IUCN Red List reveals that seabirds are now more threatened than any other group of birds. Of the 346 seabird species, 97 (28%) are globally threatened and nearly half of all seabird species…

    • 11 Sep 2014