All albatrosses dead in transoceanic race
Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
August 1, 2005
All 18 albatross competitors died in the 2005 Big Bird Race.
The annual 10,000-kilometer race, which which aims to raise international awareness about the dangers of longline fishing to the albatross and other marine species, began on May 2 from Tasmania, Australia. None of the endangered albatrosses tracked by satellites made it to the finish line in South Africa.
The event was organized by British betting company Ladbrokes, the Conservation Foundation and the Tasmanian government and allowed people to bet on which bird would win the trans-oceanic race. Despite the unfortunate outcome, proceeds from the event are donated to marine conservation efforts. Further, participating organizations hope the the race will encourage more countries to sign the Agreement for the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), a treaty that requires signatory states to take specific measures to reduce seabird by-catch from longline fishing and improve the conservation status of the birds.
Albatrosses nesting in the Galapagos
Last year 17 out of 20 tracked birds survived the three-month crossing.
Albatrosses, also known as Gooney birds, are seabirds known for their tremendous wingspans that enable them to travel great distances around the world. All 21 albatross species are endangered species according to the IUCN Red List. Conservationists say longlining, the practice of fishing with hooked and baited lines up to 130 kilometres long, is responsible for killing thousands of seabirds, sea turtles, and dolphins each year. BirdLife.net estimates that 1 billion hooks are set annually by the world’s longline fleets. The United States recently moved to ban longline fishing for swordfish in the Pacific between the West Coast and Hawaii in an effort to protect these threatened species.
This article used information from Birdlife International, the AP, Wikipedia, Ladbrokes.com, and Sapa-AFP.