Thousands of albatrosses die needlessly every year as the victims of longling fishing. They are attracted to the baited hooks, get caught and are dragged under the water and drown.
Fishermen are often unaware of the simple, cost effective techniques that when used rapidly reduce albatross deaths.
In 2005, along with a number of our BirdLife International partners, the Albatross Task Force was formed. These men and women are the world's first international team of skilled, at-sea instructors.
Since their formation, there have been a dramatic reduction in the numbers of albatross and other seabirds killed. This is a sure sign that Albatross Task Force members really are getting something practical done to help save albatrosses from extinction.
This blog follows the trials and tribulations of the Albatross Task Force as they work onshore and at sea, spreading the message about these life-saving techniques.
Two weeks ago, when the vessel was fishing close to
the Isla de los Estados, something strange happened.
After having observed the morning haul, I went back to
my cabin for a wash before lunch and was startled to find a bird that we are
not used to seeing way out on the open ocean. It had neither long nor thin
wings as an ocean bird should have, no tube upon it’s beak like a true petrel,
not even webbed feet! It was a Cattle egret Bubulcus
ibis that one of the crew must have deposited in my bunk!
As is typical on these trips, I was immediately given
the name ‘bird man’ and was swiftly beckoned each time any bird came to settle
on deck. This time, the bird was left in my cabin for me.
As I found it, I realised that many of the crew had
gathered to watch my reaction, and to see how the bird was enjoying my bunk. It
seemed to like it, snuggled in amongst my slippers and stinky outdoor clothes. It
is not an ocean-going species and was clearly in need of some rest and
At least this gave a good occasion to explain more
about seabird biology and conservation issues, which is a big part of our work
onboard. I also routinely tested the crew on seabird identification to see what
they had picked up from my little lessons, as for many of them all the bird species
that frequent the southern oceans are just ‘different sized seagulls’.
At the end of the trip I presented the best seabird ID
scholar with an ATF Argentina hat!
Before leaving the vessel, I helped the crew change
their tori line to the more efficient model that I had built for them. They
seemed happy with its performance and are continuing to use it on their next
trip, so my work onboard was very positive!