Albatrosses breeding in Antarctic


This video from South Georgia in the sub-Antarctic says about itself:

Gentoo Penguins are endlessly entertaining. See them going up to their hilltop colonies where they display, build nests, mate and bicker. Spring snowmelt fills the streams and waterfalls.

Down on the beach, where ice from nearby glaciers fill the bays, the Elephant Seals are feeding their pups. King Penguins are in amongst the tussac grass moulting. Skuas stand on their lookout on cliffs where the Light-mantled Sooty Albatross fly in effortless fashion.

From the BBC:

2 September 2009

Albatrosses set breeding record

Matt Walker
Editor, Earth News

A small group of light-mantled sooty albatrosses has set a new breeding record.

The birds have created a colony on King George Island, one of the South Shetland Islands located in Antarctica.

This new breeding colony is the southernmost breeding location of any albatross species ever recorded.

Researchers spotted two confirmed nests on the island, one containing eggs and the other nestlings, and three more possible nests.

The light-mantled sooty albatross (Phoebetria palpebrata) is a medium-sized albatross that has a circumpolar distribution around the Southern Ocean.

It is the most abundant albatross in Antarctic waters and is known to range further south than other albatross species, often flying as far south as the border of the Antarctic pack ice during long-distance foraging trips.

However, it was only thought to nest on sub-Antarctic islands, lying at latitudes between 46 and 53 degrees South.

That was until Simeon Lisovski and Hans-Ulrich Peter of the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, in Germany and colleagues Karel Weidinger and Vaclav Pavel of Palacky University in Olomouc, Czech Republic discovered a new breeding colony of the birds at Fildes Peninsula on King George Island, at a latitude of 62 degrees and 12 minutes South.

In the summer season spanning 2008 and 2009, a research group led by Dr Peter saw light-mantled sooty albatrosses landing on a large 140m-high flat-topped rocky outcrop on the island.

“On Christmas day I got an unexpected call via the radio that two colleagues could observe some light-mantled sooty albatrosses landing on a very small jutty at the scarp of the rock,” says Lisovski.

So Lisovski, Weidinger and Pavel kept observing the birds, until in February this year they discovered adults at two nests. They also saw three more sitting adults, suggesting three further nests, though they couldn’t climb the rocky outcrop to confirm this.

The new breeding colony is some 1,520km away from the nearest known breeding colony of light-mantled sooty albatrosses, which is on the island of South Georgia, the team reports in the journal Polar Biology.

It is unclear why the birds are breeding so far south.

Climate change could be creating warmer and more benign conditions for the birds, the researchers speculate, though it is not yet clear whether this is the case.

Whatever the cause, the birds are likely to have a much smaller breeding window in the Antarctic.

Light-mantled sooty albatross chicks need 70 days to hatch and another 70 to become independent.

So even if they start nesting early in November, when there is no snow, the chicks will not be ready to fly until April, leaving them vulnerable to extreme weather events.

I myself have seen those beautiful birds flying over the Antarctic ocean.

[Black-browed] Albatross Camera Reveals Fascinating Feeding Interaction With Killer Whale: here. And here.

Plastic, plastic everywhere, nor any bite to eat: Pacific albatrosses feast on garbage patch offerings: here.

The importance of fish in the diet of the South Polar Skua (Stercorarius maccormicki) at the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica: here.

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6 thoughts on “Albatrosses breeding in Antarctic

  1. Kaapse Duif (Oude) N naam voor de Kaapse Stormvogel Ý [Coomber 1991; bij Ht 1763 Kaapsche Duif]. Het onderdeel Duif komt ws. eerder voort uit de traditie dat bepaalde noordelijke zeevogels door de zeelui internationaal ‘Duif’ (of de vertaling daarvan) genoemd werden dan dat de onderhavige soort ongeveer zo groot zou zijn als een Duif (zoals Ht aangeeft). De Kaapsche Duif is ruim groter dan een Duif, maar wel aanzienlijk kleiner dan de Kaapsche Hamel Ý. E Cape Pigeon [BWP]; Sp (bijv. in Peru) Paloma del Cabo [Koepcke], afrikaans Seeduif [RSA].

  2. Kaapse Stormvogel Daption capense (Linnaeus: Procellaria) 1758 [Perrins 1991; ZVN]. Met de Noordse Stormvogel verwante zeevogel van de zuidelijke oceanen, die ook rond Kaap de Goede Hoop te vinden is. In de Lage Landen is eenmaal een doodvondst van deze soort gedaan, reden waarom hij op de N avifaunalijst gestaan heeft, nog onder zijn oude, maar bekendere naam Kaapsche duif [CNNV 1946], Kaapse Duif Ý. Ht 1763: “Deeze, die gemeenlyk Kaapsche Duif heet en van de Portugeezen Pintados genoemd wordt, is een by troepen vliegende Zee-Vogel, die op de Hoogte van dertig Graaden Zuider-Breedte, tusschen Kaap der Goede Hope en Nieuw Holland [Australië] voorkomt, daar hy Schepen volgt, hebbende de grootte van een Duif, zegt Osbeck, die ‘er aldaar een gevangen hadt. Hy wordt Pierrot tacheté of gevlakte Petteril van Edwards [1751] geheten; die ‘er een fraaije Afbeelding van geeft.”

    E Cape Petrel of Pintado Petrel [Koepcke]

  3. I find it incredible that more blogs and forums are not as pleasant as this one. Often times when I land on a website page the articles and other content is so deficient that I move on without delay. That is not the case here. Thanks so much.

  4. Pingback: Wildlife of the Antarctic Peninsula | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: Macquarie Island’s sub-Antarctic wildlife | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: Antarctic prehistoric bird tracks discovered | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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