• August 6th, 2020

Bird rings reveal life history of seabirds

Titus Shaanika and 
Samantha Matjila

The Albatross Task Force (ATF) Namibia received two bird rings from fishermen last August and October. 
The latter was of a juvenile Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross and the previous was of an adult Cape Gannet. The Atlantic yellow-nosed Albatross was caught during fishing operations in a trawl net, and the Cape Gannet on a fishing hook by a longline vessel, both accidentally. Wild birds are permanently tagged by registered ringers. Each metal ring has a unique number in order to keep track and study the birds’ movements, habits, breeding, deaths and survival rates.  

The ring found on the juvenile Atlantic yellow-nosed Albatross belongs to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and had the code MA43682 on it. Upon sending the ring details to the relevant authorities in Britain (www.ring.ac), they revealed the history of the specific bird. This specific Yellow-nosed Albatross was ringed as a chick last January on Nightingale Island in Tristan Da Cunha Island groups (UK overseas territory). 

A distance of 2 940 km south west from the Namibian fishing grounds, where the bird was found 576 days after it was ringed. The bird was ringed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) team working in partnership with the Tristan Da Cunha government conservation department.  

Fifteen out of twenty-two albatross species are considered at risk of extinction due to several threats such as plastic pollution, habitat disturbances and incidental mortality due to interaction with fishing gear. The Atlantic yellow-nosed Albatross is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Atlantic yellow-nosed Albatrosses occur in the southern Atlantic oceans between South America and Southern Africa and live up to 70 years.

The Cape Gannet was ringed by Pete Bartlett, a Senior Fisheries Research Technician from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR), on March 02, 2000, on Ichaboe Island (Namibian island). It was ringed as a chick, and was found 130 km away from Ichaboe, 6 800 days (18 years 7 months 20 days) later. This was revealed by the South African Bird ringing Unit (safring@adu.org.za), after ATF Namibia sent the ring code: 9A 25783, to them.

Cape gannets face threats such as pollution, human disturbances and bycatch from the fishing industry. They are also listed as endangered by the IUCN.  Cape gannets only breed on 3 islands in Namibia and 3 islands in South Africa.

However, they do also occur in coastal waters off the Gulf of Guinea, eastern Africa to the coastal waters off Tanzania, West Africa. Cape gannets can live up to 40 years. The Albatross Task Force project, managed by Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF), liaise closely with Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR), the Fisheries Observer Agency and commercial fishermen to raise awareness about seabird conservation and the implementation of seabird bycatch mitigation measures to ensure sustainable reduction of the incidental seabird mortality in Namibian fishing grounds, which ultimately promotes sustainable harvesting of our marine resources and health of our ocean ecosystem. 

The ATF encourages the public to feel free contact the team If they have any questions or information relating to seabirds or conservation in general, on 061 248 345 or email to info@nnf.org.na. 

New Era Reporter
2019-03-26 09:33:56 | 1 years ago

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