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Albatrosses, of the biological family Diomedeidae, are large seabirds allied to the procellariids, storm-petrels and diving-petrels in the order Procellariiformes (the tubenoses). They range widely in the Southern Ocean and the North Pacific. They are absent from the North Atlantic.

Albatrosses are among the largest of flying birds, and the great albatrosses, genus Diomedea have the largest wingspans of any extant birds. The albatrosses are usually regarded as falling into four genera, but there is disagreement over the number of species

Order: Procellariiformes
Family: Diomedeidae

Genus Diomedea, Great albatrosses Diomedea
Genus Phoebastria, North Pacific albatrosses
Genus Thalassarche, Mollymawks
Genus Phoebetria, Sooty albatrosses

Diomedeidae Albatrosser Albatross
Scientific name - Latin
Diomedea amsterdamensis RED LIST (exulans) Beltealbatross Amsterdam Albatross
Diomedea antipodensis RED LIST (exulans)   Antipodean Albatross
Diomedea dabbenena RED LIST (exulans) Tristanalbatross Tristan Albatross
Diomedea epomophora RED LIST Kongealbatross, sørlig Southern Royal Albatross
Diomedea exulans RED LIST Vandrealbatross Wandering Albatross-Albatros Hurleur
Diomedea sanfordi RED LIST (epomorpha) Kongealbatross, nordlig Northern Royal Albatross
Phoebastria immutabilis Laysanalbatross Laysan Albatross
Phoebastria nigripes RED LIST Svartfotalbatross Black-footed Albatross
Phoebastria albatrus RED LIST Gulhodealbatross Short-tailed ( / Steller's -) Albatross
Phoebastria irrorata RED LIST Galapagosalbatross Waved Albatross
Phoebetria fusca RED LIST Sotalbatross (Dark mantled) Sooty Albatross
Phoebetria palpebrata RED LIST Gråalbatross Light-mantled Albatross
Thalassarche chrysostoma RED LIST Gråhodealbatross Grey-headed Albatross
Thalassarche melanophris RED LIST Svartbrynalbatross Black-browed Albatross
Thalassarche bulleri RED LIST Hvitpannealbatross Buller's Albatross
Thalassarche carteri RED LIST (chlororhynchos) Crozetalbatross Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross
Thalassarche cauta RED LIST Svartflekkalbatross Shy Albatross
Thalassarche chlororhynchos RED LIST Gulnesealbatross ? Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross
Thalassarche eremita RED LIST (cauta) Chatham Albatross Chatham Albatross
Thalassarche impavida RED LIST (melanophris)   Campbell Albatross
Thalassarche salvini RED LIST (cauta)   Salvin's Albatross
Thalassarche steadi RED LIST   White-Capped Albatross
IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 9th April 2008.
for latin names in brackets - se Taxonomy below.


The albatrosses comprise between 13 and 24 species (the number of species is still a matter of some debate, 21 being the most commonly accepted number) in 4 genera. They are the great albatrosses, Diomedea, the mollymawks, Thalassarche,
the North Pacific albatrosses, Phoebastria, and the sooty albatrosses or sooties, Phoebetria. Of the four genera,
the North Pacific albatrosses are considered to be a sister taxon to the great albatrosses, while the sooty albatrosses are
considered closer to the mollymawks.
We have as per April 2012, collected the albatrosses on four pages according to their 4 genera.
working on that right now, April 23rd

The taxonomy of the albatross group has been a source of a great deal of debate. The Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy places seabirds,
birds of prey and many others in a greatly enlarged order Ciconiiformes, whereas the ornithological organisations in North America, Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand retain the more traditional order Procellariiformes. The albatrosses
can be separated from the other Procellariiformes both genetically and through morphological characteristics, size, their legs
and the arrangement of their nasal tubes (see Morphology and flight on the source-page).

Within the family the assignment of genera has been debated for over a hundred years. Originally placed into a single genus,
Diomedea, they were rearranged by Reichenbach into four different genera in 1852, then lumped back together and split apart
again several times, acquiring 12 different genus names in total (though never more than eight at one time) by 1965 (Diomedea,
Phoebastria, Thalassarche, Phoebetria, Thalassageron, Diomedella, Nealbatrus, Rhothonia, Julietata, Galapagornis,
, and Penthirenia).

By 1965, in an attempt to bring some order back to the classification of albatrosses, they were lumped into two genera,
Phoebetria (the sooty albatrosses which most closely seemed to resemble the procellarids and were at the time considered "primitive" ) and Diomedea (the rest).[5] Though there was a case for the simplification of the family (particularly the
nomenclature), the classification was based on the morphological analysis of Elliott Coues in 1866, and paid little attention to
more recent studies and even ignored some of Coues's suggestions.

More recent research by Gary Nunn of the American Museum of Natural History (1996) and other researchers around the
world studied the mitochondrial DNA of all 14 accepted species, finding that there were four, not two, monophyletic groups
within the albatrosses. They proposed the resurrection of two of the old genus names, Phoebastria for the North Pacific
albatrosses and Thalassarche for the mollymawks, with the great albatrosses retaining Diomedea and the sooty albatrosses
staying in Phoebetria. Both the British Ornithologists' Union and the South African authorities split the albatrosses into four
genera as Nunn suggested, and the change has been accepted by the majority of researchers.

While there is some agreement on the number of genera, there is less agreement on the number of species. Historically, up to 80
different taxa have been described by different researchers; most of these were incorrectly identified juvenile birds.

Based on the work on albatross genera, Robertson and Nunn went on in 1998 to propose a revised taxonomy with 24 different
species, compared to the 14 then accepted. This interim taxonomy elevated many established subspecies to full species, but was
criticised for not using, in every case, peer reviewed information to justify the splits. Since then further studies have in some
instances supported or disproved the splits; a 2004 paper analysing the mitochondrial DNA and microsatellites agreed with the
conclusion that the Antipodean Albatross and the Tristan Albatross were distinct from the Wandering Albatross, per Robertson
and Nunn, but found that the suggested Gibson's Albatross, Diomedea gibsoni, was not distinct from the Antipodean Albatross.
For the most part, an interim taxonomy of 21 species is accepted by the IUCN and many other researchers, though by no means
all—in 2004 Penhallurick and Wink called for the number of species to be reduced to 13 (including the lumping of the
Amsterdam Albatross with the Wandering Albatross), although this paper was itself controversial. On all sides, there is the
widespread agreement on the need for further research to clarify the issue.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albatross Downloaded April 23, 2012

Albatross numbers under threat
Posted Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:05am AEDT

Longline fishing is also a significant threat to albatross. (File photo) (AAP: Australian Antarctic Division/Graham Robertson)

The World Wildlife Fund is calling for better protection of albatross nesting sites after new research
revealed the species is under an increased threat from pests.

A Macqaurie Univeristy study into the effect of climate change on endangered species has predicted
warmer temparatures will see feral species thrive in island and coastal habitats.

The World Wildlife Fund's Kat Miller says albatross breeding grounds such as Macquarie Island
in the Southern Ocean are already infested by rats and rabbits.

She says a further increase in pest populations could place some albatross species at risk
of immediate extinction.

"The albatross species that are particularly going to be at risk are the ones that breed on a single island,
or just one or two islands," Ms Miller said.

"And six of Australia's albatross species breed on only one or two islands in Australian waters.
If these sites become unsuitable then the albatross have no-where else to go," she said.



fishing agencies are currently setting about 400 million hooks across the Atlantic.

"That's a lot of hooks and even though a vessel may catch either no birds on a particular set or maybe only one bird or two birds, the problem is when you multiply that up across millions and millions of hooks then it becomes a problem for our seabirds."

The total number of hooks set in Australian waters south of 30 degrees between 1 January and 31 December 1994
by Japanese tuna fishing vessels was 13 720 283 (data supplied by AFMA).

From data gathered by AFMA observers in the same period and weighted to take account of differences between
the detected winter and summer kill rates and the proportion of hooks set in winter and summer, it has been
estimated that the kill of seabirds on these lines is 4 645 birds.

The Australian domestic tuna fishing industry set 2 219 408 hooks in 1994 (data supplied by AFMA).
Using kill rates calculated by the Tasmanian Department of Parks Wildlife and Heritage for this domestic fishery,
the estimated the kill of seabirds on domestic tuna longlines is 2 108 birds.
It is important to note that the AFMA observer data records only those birds, almost always dead,
that are hauled aboard on longlines. It does not take account of those birds that are hooked but torn
from the hooks before being hauled aboard.

These animals may be eaten by sharks, or escape and may die at sea or back at the colony, as has been recorded
by French researchers. It has been estimated that birds in this category may be up to 30% of the number of birds
hauled aboard.

Therefore any estimates of seabirds killed on longlines calculated from the AFMA observer data must be
considered to be minimum estimates. When these minimum estimates (6 753) of birds killed on longlines caught in
Australian waters south of 30 degrees in 1994 by Japanese tuna boats (4 645) and domestic tuna boats (2 108)
are factored to take account of this 'undetected' kill then the estimated number of seabirds caught on longlines in
1994 rises to about 8 700 (assuming an undetected kill of approximately 30%).

From the available data, it has been estimated that 75% of the seabirds killed are albatross species with the balance
comprised predominantly of species of large petrels and a small proportion of some shearwater species.
On this basis the kill of albatross species in Australian waters south of 30 degrees in 1994, ie approx 6 500 birds,
may have been around 15% of the total number of albatross estimated to be killed on longlines worldwide.
http://www.environment.gov.au (not foundasperSept 2010)
(That should make a total of 43.000 killed albatrosses worldwide)

What is a Longline?

A longline is a fishing line usually made of monofilament.
The length of the line generally ranges from 1.6km (1 mile) to as long as 100km (62 miles).
The line is buoyed by styrofoam or plastic floats.

Every hundred or so feet, there is a secondary line attached extending down about 5m (16 feet). This secondary line is hooked and baited with squid, fish, or in cases we have discovered,
with fresh dolphin meat.

The baited hooks can be seen by albatross from the air and when they dive on the hooks,
they are caught and they drown. Other forms of marine wildlife see the bait from the waters
below and get hooked when they try to eat the bait.

The lines are set adrift from vessels for a period of 12 to 24 hours.

What Are These Longlines Doing to the Albatross?

Unfortunately for the various species of albatross in this remote part of the world,
fleets of hundreds of fishing vessels from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Indonesia hunt
the Southern bluefin tuna, sharks, and billfish.

Albatross and other seabird species are caught and dragged underwater to their deaths
on these deadly, baited hooks as they are launched from the ships.

As many as 100 million hooks a year are set by the Japanese fleet alone in the Southern
bluefin tuna fishery. Tens of thousands of birds are being killed annually.

One conservative calculation for albatross killed on Japanese longliners is 44,000 per year.
The actual figure could be double that, according to researchers, but data on albatross
kills by other nations' fishing vessels is not available.

Twelve of the world's 14 albatross species are believed to be dying in the tens of thousands
each year in this way. Because of the large number of birds affected,
commercial fishing has been identified as the most serious threat to the survival
of most albatross species.
http://www.seashepherd.org/longline/ (not found as perSept 2010)

See also our pages here:
 Fishing hooks push 20 albatross species to the brink of extinction

 Fiskekroker bringer 20 albatross-arter til randen av utryddelse.


What Are These Longlines Doing to the Sea Turtles?

Many species of sea turtles fall victim to the deadly hooks of the longliners.

20,000 loggerhead turtles are captured every year by the Spanish longline fishery in the Mediterranean Sea, and 4,000 of them are believed to die because they are returned to the sea with the hook still embedded in their throats.

Sea Shepherd crew have recorded dozens of turtle carcasses along the Pacific coast of Central America. When examined, all the dead turtles were found to have hooks embedded in their throats.

According to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), 75% of the loggerhead turtles and 40% of the leatherback turtles taken by United States-based pelagic longliners in the Atlantic are caught on the Grand Banks in the North Atlantic .

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that 40,000 sea turtles are killed annually in the global longline fisheries.

Leatherback turtles, the largest turtles in the world, will be extinct within a few decades if current fishing practices continue. That is the conclusion of marine researchers speaking at the 2002 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Denver. "We've done specific analysis on beaches where we've got a lot of data and we expect them to disappear in 10 to 30 years," said Larry Crowder, from Duke University, North Carolina.
http://www.seashepherd.org (not valid as per Sept. 2010)



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