Welcome! You can help to save the albatross.
THE NEEDLESS SLAUGHTER
Right now in the southern ocean an albatross could be dying. In fact, on average, every 5 minutes another albatross is hooked and drowned.
Each year around 100,000 are wiped out. Consequently 19 of the 21 species of albatross are facing extinction. The chilling fact is that, like the dodo, children may soon be reading about the albatross as yet another example of a tragic, permanent loss.
An albatross can live for 60 years. Once theyve met their mate most stay together for life and have only one chick every one or two years. So as more and more birds are killed there are ever fewer mating pairs left to replenish numbers.
WHATS GOING ON?
The problem is longline fishing. To catch valuable fish such as tuna, huge fishing vessels set lines up to 130 km long bristling with baited hooks. The albatross see the bait, become hooked and drown.
An estimated 1 billion hooks are set each year by the worlds longline fishing fleets. This has made the traditional feeding grounds dangerous places to be for all sea birds.
No-one benefits from this slaughter. A drowned, lifeless albatross is of no value to the fishermen. They would much prefer their hooks caught the fish for which they were intended.
"Like me, people care passionately that these ancient mariners should be given a fighting chance to spread their wings and enjoy another 50 million years on earth."
THE CLOCK IS TICKING
Time is running out. But its not too late to save the albatross.
Simple measures to prevent so many birds dying needlessly include:
* setting the lines at night when fewer birds are feeding
* weighting lines to make baited hooks sink more quickly
* colouring the bait with harmless blue dye to put off the keen-eyed birds
* towing a brightly coloured bird-scaring line alongside the baited line
In fact, theres a whole range of simple, practical solutions that fishermen can adopt. Our challenge is to make sure they reach the fishermen before its too late.
A small group of intrepid people, the Albatross Task Force, has already managed to reach many fishermen and show them how to implement these techniques. But its the scale of the problem, and the prevalence of illegal fishing boats, that makes their task a daunting challenge.
AT THE FRONT LINE
Today we looked at how to prevent the streamer line from getting entangled with the longline, which is the main problem for these fishermen. Two birds were caught the same day the streamer broke (only a couple of hours later) which shows how effective this method can be.
I even found time for a quick trip to Namibia, where fishermen are interested in learning more about albatross-friendly techniques. Never a dull moment!
Ben Sullivan Global Seabird Programme Co-ordinator
just finished a great meeting with a fisheries technology guy about a really cool design for a hook pod/capsule, which could not only stop albatrosses from being accidentally caught by fishing lines, but possibly also sea turtles!
YOUR PART IN THEIR SURVIVAL
You could add your name to our supporters register:
Well send you a striking hook badge. Just by wearing it youll be helping raise awareness of the plight of the albatross.
You could make a donation:
Every £1 will increase the chances of the albatrosss survival. Click here to donate.
You could become a member of the RSPB:
To find out more about the incredibly diverse and active world of the RSPB in protecting wildlife and their habitats simply visit http://www.rspb.org.uk