Albatross (Antipodean albatross) Diomedea antipodensis
Species: D. antipodensis
Binomial name: Diomedea antipodensis
Synonyms: Diomedea exulans antipodensis
Common names: Antipodean albatross, Gibson's albatross
Diomedea antipodensis (Antipodean albatross) is a large seabird in the albatross family. It is smaller than wandering albatrosses. There are two sub-species; however there was a study in 1998 that suggested splitting this species, though this was not accepted in a 2004 study. The two supspecies were named, Diomedea antipodensis antipodensis, nominate race, breeds on the Antipodes Islands and Campbell Island. Diomedea antipodensis gibsoni, breeds on the Auckland Islands.
The Antipodean is 10 cm in length. Its breeding plumage is brown and white and its juveniles are similar in appearance to the wandering albatross. Breeding females have brown upper parts, and have white vermiculations (surface pattern of irregular lines), on their back. Its face, throat, lower breast, and belly are white, and its under tail coverts are brown. Its underwings are also white, but with a dark tip. Breeding males are whiter than females, but not as white as the wandering albatross, and both sexes have a pink bill.
At sea antipodean albatrosses range across the South Pacific from Australia to as far as Chile, from the Tropic of Capricorn south. They breed on the Auckland Islands, Antipodes Islands, and Campbell Island. They feed predominantly on cephalopod and to a lesser extent fish (unlike other albatross species they are not recorded eating any crustaceans), and have been recorded visiting the spawning grounds of the giant cuttlefish off New South Wales. They nest on ridges, slopes, or plateaus, and will build their nest in the open or within patchy vegetation, such as tussock grassland.
The IUCN classifies this albatross as vulnerable, with an occurrence range of 37,400,000 km2; although its breeding range is only. A 2007 population estimate numbered between 4,635 and 5,757 breeding pairs on Antipodes Island, 5,800 pairs on the Auckland Islands (Adams Island, Auckland Island, and Disappointment Island), and 10 pair on Campbell Island. There has been 1 pair breeding on Pitt Island, Chatham Islands since 2004. This places the total population at 25,300. Both breeding success (25%) and adult survival rates (80% female & 88% male) have been declining. Pigs and feral cats are hurting the population on Auckland Island and longline fishing is still impacting them. Recent studies have shown that a rise in Tasman Sea temperature may be impacting this albatross.
Banding has been an ongoing process, and will continue with satellite tracking of the species. Cattle and sheep have been eradicated from Campbell Island, and all the islands are nature preserves and recently became World Heritage Sites. Cats and pigs need to be removed from the Auckland Islands, the fisheries need to be worked with and the ocean temperature fluctuations need to be studied to help this species survive. (Wikipedia)
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