Justification of Red List Category
This species is classified as Vulnerable because breeding is restricted to a single location, where it is susceptible to potential human impacts and stochastic events. Although numbers decreased steeply between the 1970s and 1980s owing to interactions with fisheries, the population is now thought to be increasing, although there has not been a census since 1996.
The total population was estimated to be 19,000-26,000 breeding pairs (Moore and Moffat 1990, Sagar 2014), with the most recent censuses in 2006-2012 giving an estimate of 21,648 pairs (Sagar 2014).
Numbers decreased steeply in the 1970s and 1980s, attributed to bycatch longline fisheries. One colony declined at a rate of 5.9% per year between 1966 and 1981, and 10.5% per year between 1981 and 1984, equating to an overall population reduction of 72% during that period. However, numbers have been either stable or increasing slightly since 1984 (Waugh et al. 1999a), with a 1.8% increase recorded in selected colonies between 1992 and 1997 (Moore 2004), although the last census was in 1996/7. The trend over the past three generations (85 years) is assumed to be negative, but, based on the decrease in fishing effort following a peak in 1971-1983, the population is considered likely to continue to expand.
Thalassarche impavida breeds only on the northern and western coastline of Campbell Island (111 km2) and the tiny offshore islet, Jeanette Marie, New Zealand. The total population was estimated to be 19,000-26,000 breeding pairs (Moore and Moffat 1990, Sagar 2014), with the most recent censuses in 2006-2012 giving an estimate of 21,648 pairs (Sagar 2014). Numbers decreased steeply between the 1970s and 1980s: one colony declined at a rate of 5.9% per year between 1966 and 1981, and 10.5% per year between 1981 and 1984. However, numbers were either stable or increasing slightly since 1984-1997 (Waugh et al. 1999a), with a 1.8% increase recorded in selected colonies between 1992 and 1997 (Moore 2004). More recently, numbers have shown an uncertain trend with a non-significant decrease inferred for the period 2006-2012 compared to 1995-1997 (Sagar 2014). Its non-breeding range is confined to southern Australian waters, the Tasman Sea and the south Pacific Ocean (Croxall and Gales 1998, Waugh et al. 1999b). Breeding adults forage from South Island, New Zealand, and Chatham Rise southwards to the Ross Sea (Waugh et al. 1999c, BirdLife International 2004).
Behaviour This species breeds annually and is present in colonies from September to May. Eggs are laid from late September to early October, hatching mostly in early December and chicks fledge from mid April to early May (ACAP 2009). Mean annual productivity was 66% between 1984 and 1994. Mean adult survivorship was 94.5% between 1984 and 1995. Birds return to land at age 5 (ACAP 2009) and the average age of first breeding is 10 years (Waugh et al. 1999a). It feeds by surface-seizing and is probably capable of shallow dives (ACAP 2009). Habitat Breeding Campbell Albatross nests on ledges and steep slopes covered in low native grasses, tussocks and mud (Brooke 2004). Diet It feeds mainly on fish, also on squid, crustaceans, gelatinous organisms and carrion (Cherel et al. 1999). The diet during the chick-rearing period is dominated by juvenile Southern Blue Whiting Micromesistius australis (ACAP 2009). Foraging range Satellite-tracking studies indicated that birds provisioning chicks predominantly foraged over neritic waters during trips lasting less than four days, with some long trips of 8-21 days over oceanic waters. The foraging range during short trips extended 150-640 km from the breeding colony, mainly over subantarctic waters within the 1,000 m depth contour on the Campbell Plateau. Longer trips extended up to 2,000 km from the colony, ranging from subtropical to Antarctic waters, but mainly to the Polar Frontal Zone or to the east of the Campbell Plateau. This plasticity in foraging behaviour is in contrast to the exclusively neritic feeding trips observed in T. melanophrys at some sites, though not others (ACAP 2009).
Incidental capture by commercial fisheries was likely responsible for previous rapid decline and is an ongoing threat although there is no evidence for bycatch causing significant declines at present. Large numbers have been caught by tuna longline vessels, mostly juveniles in New Zealand waters, but also adults in Australian waters (Heather and Robertson 1997, Croxall and Gales 1998, Taylor 2000). The past population decline coincided with the development of a large-scale fishery that peaked in New Zealand waters during 1971-1983. The recent increase in numbers may be due to a substantial decline in fishing effort since 1984 (Waugh et al. 1999a). However, during 1988-1995, the species still comprised 11% of all the seabirds killed on tuna longlines in New Zealand waters and returned for identification (Taylor 2000), and 13% of all banded birds caught in Australian waters (Gales et al. 1998). It is also attracted to offal discarded from trawlers, and is regularly drowned in New Zealand trawl fisheries (Heather and Robertson 1997, Baird and Smith 2007, Richard et al. 2013).
Conservation Actions Underway
ACAP Annex 1. The species was first studied in the 1940s. Feral sheep were eradicated from the north of Campbell Island, where the nesting colonies are, in 1971, and then from the island itself in 1991. Research includes studies on population dynamics, colony distribution, biology, diet and foraging (Taylor 2000). The islands are a national nature reserve, and part of a World Heritage Site, declared in 1998. Rats and cats were eradicated from Campbell in 2001, and an expedition in 2003 found no evidence of them persisting (P. Moore in litt. 2003).
88 cm. Medium-sized, black-and-white albatross with pale yellow iris. Black triangle around eye reaches base of bill. Adult, white head, neck, rump, underparts. Black upperwing, back, tail. White underwing with broad black edging. Yellow bill, becoming orange at tip. Juvenile, brown-grey bill with black tip, dark eyes, partial or complete band extending from mantle around chest, more extensive black on underwing. Similar spp. Black-browed Albatross T. melanophrys has less extensive eyebrow, dark eye, less black on underwing. Grey-headed Albatross T. chrysostoma has grey head and yellow-ridged bill.
Text account compilers
Stuart, A., Fjagesund, T., Butchart, S., Bird, J., Hermes, C., Calvert, R., Martin, R., Moreno, R., Small, C.
Thompson, D., Molloy, J., Taylor, G.A., Moore, P., Stahl, J.-C., Robertson, C., Sagar, P.
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Thalassarche impavida. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/03/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/03/2019.