Shy Albatross endangered

Tasmania’s Shy Albatross is now classed as endangered

Shy Albatross approaching
Shy Albatross flying approaching us..

The Shy Albatross (Thalassarche cauta) only breeds on three small islands which are just here off Tasmania: Albatross Island in the Northwest and Pedra Branca and Mewstone in the South of the state. These Ocean Wanderers with a wing span of up to 2.6 meters can fly from Tasmania around the globe and back in 7 to 8 weeks.

Sadly, fewer Shy Albatross offspring are returning to breed every year. From 2005 to 2014 the breeding population on Albatross Island decreased by an average of 2.2% annually (Alderman 2015). According to BirdLife International,  the population on Albatross Island is predicted to decline by 33% over the next 60 years or 45% by 2100.

The three biggest threats for all Albatross species are:

  • Marine Pollution
  • Fisheries
  • Climate Change

An acknowledgement that threats continue

Shy Albatross swallowing a fish.
Shy Albatross swallowing a fish.

At the start of the 20th century, populations were decimated by the harvesting of their feathers, which were used to plump up mattresses. It was only when numbers got so low that trade was no longer viable that the population began to recover. Fast forward to today, climate change increased the rainfall on Albatross Island as well as air temperatures during the chick rearing period which has lowered the breeding success and violent waves are a hazard for the exposed Pedra Branca colony. Hungry birds ingest plastics and other debris that float in the Ocean and – too often – they end up as incidental by catch by longline fisheries.

This month, the Shy Albatross has been upgraded on the Federal Government’s threatened species list from vulnerable to endangered with only about 15,000 pairs left in the World.

An endangered Shy Albatross sitting on the water.
The Shy Albatross is now classed as endangered.

An amazing job has been done by biologists to try and help the species by installing artificial nests on Albatross Island. Studies have shown that birds with high quality nests have greater chance of hatching an egg and producing a chick than poor quality ones. Not all birds can find and keep sufficient nesting material to make a high-quality nest.

But it’s not only up to the scientists. We can all do our bit to help our Tasmanian Shy Albatross and other marine life:

  • Reduce your waste and dispose of it thoughtfully
  • Pick up rubbish at the beach and along waterways
  • Organise a beach clean up
  • Choose plant-based food – You’ll be surprised how good beer-battered tofu with nori tastes!
  • Or if you can’t live without eating fish, do your research when buying fish and other seafood and only chose products from businesses with sustainable fishing practices

If you would like to see the beautiful Shy Albatross and other sea birds along our coastline, contact us for the next tour departure times! Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, we have paused our online booking system and are now running tours on request. We look forward to having you on board!