Albatrosses at risk due to fishing
October 3, 2006
"If that happens every year, that is not sustainable," said Jill Awkerman, a Wake Forest University graduate student who is the lead author of the study. "In a matter of decades, you could be talking about extinction."
Awkerman and David Anderson, professor of biology at Wake Forest, studied survival rates of waved albatrosses on Española Island in the Galapagos Islands by tagging 2,550 albatrosses with identification bands. A year later fishermen returned 23 dead albatrosses, suggesting a death rate of about one percent. Follow up surveys found that albatrosses often became tangled accidentally in submerged gillnets and fishermen, instead of freeing the birds, killed them as a source of food.
A Galapagos waved albatross. Image courtesy of Wake Forest University.
"Fishing mortality could be partially responsible for an apparent decline in the breeding population," Awkerman said. "Our study puts together a frightening picture of what the potential for this species is. But, with educational outreach and further research there is potential to turn this around before too much damage is done."
Awkerman noted that Ecuador and Peru appear to be taking steps to address the issue.
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This article is based on a news release from Wake Forest University. .
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