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  • Blog Post: The benefits of a tori line

    Late August and early September saw me on the Godetia, owned by Irvin and Johnson: a 56-metre wet-fish trawler. The objective of this cruise was to compare how seabirds interacted with and without flying a tori line whilst offal was discarded. The number of different types of birds around was low, but...
  • Blog Post: Working from Richard's Bay

    Hello Albatross supporters! A lot has happened since my last diary entry. As I mentioned in some of my previous entries the highest priority of the South African longline team for 2010 is to determine the effect using extra weight on fishing gear has on the catch rate of tuna and swordfish. We hope...
  • Blog Post: Happy New Year from across the oceans!

    I usually write a diary after a sea trip but this time I had a different kind of trip. I have just returned from South America where I spent seven weeks in one of the most exciting places I've ever seen. The original purpose of this trip was to attend the International Fishing Forum which was...
  • Blog Post: The African Queen

    I was arranging a trip on a deep-sea hake trawler for routine seabird interaction data collection and mitigation measure demonstrations, which luckily gave rise to a trip on board the ‘African Queen’, one of the local deep-sea trawlers. On arrival, I was well received with great smiles...
  • Blog Post: Save Our Seabirds Festival - busy, busy!

    September and October have been two of the busiest months I’ve ever experienced, and it had nothing to do with a hectic sea-going schedule! In fact I haven’t even been able to get to sea since the end of August, much to my own distress. Back in May I agreed to help organize the Save Our Seabirds...
  • Blog Post: Good publicity

    I am back on land now. The 'Saxon' docked in Cape Town Harbour on Sunday afternoon. The next day, I came back to the harbour where they were offloading their catch to deliver the tori line I promised them and also give them some T-shirts. These shirts cry in big red letters 'SAVE THE ALBATROSS'...
  • Blog Post: The impact of trawlers on albatrosses

    Barry and I spend as much time on deck as possible. Our main work is monitoring interactions between seabirds and the two warp cables at the stern. To do this, we sit for hours on end on the 'catwalk', a raised metal gantry above the stern of the boat. Barry's work has shown that it is...
  • Blog Post: Educating commercial and recreational fishermen to handle seabirds safely

    This month I thought it would be a good idea to follow on from one of my Brazilian colleague’s diaries which highlighted the poor attitude of some fishermen towards seabirds. His diary can be found here , as a reminder of the problem. I have only ever seen one or two birds with broken bills...
  • Blog Post: A long and eventful month

    Three weeks after coming back from South America (January entry) I packed my bags and flew to the east coast of South Africa where I was planned to go to sea on a swordfish longliner for a two week trip. The week before the trip I spent in one of the jewel spots of South Africa, Sodwana Bay, the only...
  • Blog Post: Hook-pods delight South African fishermen

    An emerging mitigation measure – the Hook-pod is currently being tested in South Africa and have been well-received by local fishermen. Their first impression was a feeling of awe. I can recall one skipper at Cape Town harbour calling them ‘precious toys’. My response to him was that...
  • Blog Post: A surprise from the deep

    After attending the 1st World Seabird Conference in Canada in September, I got back to South Africa and headed straight out to sea. It was absolutely wonderful to be sailing out to sea under a bright full moon, although the swells were still huge after a recent cold front. We started fishing about...
  • Blog Post: A busy month!

    August was a very exciting and busy month for me. I managed to complete three sea trips and saw lots of albatrosses and petrels. One of these trips was unique and I had some unusual experiences! The first experience was rescuing a white-chinned petrel one evening that crash-landed onto the deck when...
  • Blog Post: A busy month in South Africa...

    October turned out to be a very busy, but exciting month, in the office of the South African Albatross Task Force team ! We decided to embark on organising a Save Our Seabirds Festival, aimed at highlighting the need to protect our seabirds and raise awareness around the work the Seabird Division of...
  • Blog Post: Positive response

    Mid-October saw me giving two presentations to skippers and industry representatives about how to prevent albatross deaths in the South African hake trawl fishery. The venue was Cape Town and four fishing companies were represented. Seabirds are attracted to vessels to feed on discards from processed...
  • Blog Post: Continuing where we left off

    After the trip to Namibia in October where we learnt from interviewing skippers that seabird bycatch may be a problem, we decided to head back and continue what we had started. Now it was time to go to sea and see what really happens there. I spent four weeks in the town of Luderitz in southern Namibia...
  • Blog Post: A unique and exciting experience

    First, allow me to introduce myself. My background is quite international: I was born in Mexico to a father from Chile and a mother from Brazil. I grew up in Israel, in a kibbutz up north. There I studied at The Environmental High School located in the desert at Sede Boker. Following military service...
  • Blog Post: Open sea to the dry desert

    Richard's Bay Over the last eight months I’ve been working off Richard's Bay, in the east coast of South Africa, collecting more data for the Albatross Task Force (ATF) research project which is seeking to determine how adding weight to the fishing line effects the catch rates of...
  • Blog Post: The role of ATF Instructors in their respective communities

    Albatross Task Force instructors have many responsibilities that include but are not-limited to working with fisheries. Of course, our main objective is seabird conservation and we do that by finding ways to work together with the fishers to reduce bycatch levels in the industry. This objective is facilitated...
  • Blog Post: On-shore work in the lead-up to high fishing season

    Our fishing season normally starts in February of each year and runs through to December, spanning almost 10 months. For seabirds the highest priority months are from May through to September, when seabirds are more abundant in our waters. We have two major fisheries that contribute significantly...
  • Blog Post: Ringing pelicans on Dassan Island

    So, on to plan C. Peter Ryan, head of the Fitzpatrick Institute, tells me there's a trip going out tomorrow to Dassan Island to ring great white pelican chicks, would I like to go? Daft question! Another pre-dawn start and an 80 km drive up the west coast to Azerfontein where we board a very fast...
  • Blog Post: South African seabird videos do wonders for crew awareness

    During eight days at-sea we only managed to half-fill the fish hold on this fishing vessel. This explains how the fishing has been recently. We can’t blame it on the weather because most of the days were fine. However, there were some few days when the sea was rough with strong winds, thus making...
  • Blog Post: A little help from my friends

    My research investigating the effect of line weighting on target catch has been the major part of my efforts in 2009. It took me several months’ preparation before we were ready and I went on my first research trip onboard “my vessel”. I had prepared and set up specially configured...
  • Blog Post: Aloe! Aloe!

    Peter Exley, from the RSPB, had chosen to come to Cape Town for his sabbatical. He is helping me to produce an awareness brochure on conserving seabirds in the South African hake trawl fishery. Meeting him at the airport, it was clear after several minutes of chat that he was as keen as mustard to get...
  • Blog Post: How artwork is helping save the albatross

    For over 30 years Bruce Pearson , a professional artist, has worked on a range of themes to convey his enthusiasm for wildlife and especially birds, giving a sense of wonder to the wild places they inhabit. More recently he has focused some of his time on developing creative links between art and conservation...
  • Blog Post: Fond farewell

    Last month we said goodbye to a special person, colleague, friend, albatross admirer, Samantha Petersen, who left the Albatross Task Force (ATF) after four years of managing BirdLife South Africa Marine Programme, most of the time being the only one on the team. On a personal note, Sam was the one...