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13 February 2016

Albatrosses

70p : Black-browed Albatross (黑眉信天翁) ; 80p : Grey-headed Albatross (灰頭信天翁)
£1,00 : Light-mantled Albatross (淡額黑信天翁) ; £1,25 : Wandering Albatross (漂泊信天翁)
South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands (2015)

10th January, 2015. King Edward Point

As a group, albatrosses are the most endangered family of birds in the world with 15 of the 22 species listed by IUCN as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered. South Georgia supports internationally important populations of four species of albatross, including the world’s largest populations of grey-headed and, probably, light-mantled albatross, the second largest population of wandering albatross and the third largest population of black-browed albatross.

On South Georgia, the majority of albatross breeding sites are found on offshore islands at the northern and southern extremes of mainland South Georgia (and Annenkov Island); the exception being the light-mantled albatross, which are scattered across the entire Island. Bird Island, off the northern tip of South Georgia, is the most significant breeding site for albatrosses in the archipelago and home to one of the two British Antarctic Survey bases on the islands.

Since the 1970s, annual counts of all wandering albatross nests and selected study colonies of black-browed and grey-headed albatrosses have shown a steady decline in the populations of all these birds. Island wide censuses in the 1980s were repeated in 2003/04 and confirmed the declining trend throughout the Islands. It is believed that the major threats to these species are encountered at-sea, many birds are known to be killed in longline and trawl fisheries throughout the southern hemisphere. Although there are fisheries within the SGSSI Marine Protected Area, strict mitigation measures are used to reduce seabird mortality to minimal levels. However, albatrosses travel vast distances to feed or overwinter in other regions, where they are exposed to numerous fisheries that are not so strictly regulated.

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