The populations of wandering, black-browed and grey-headed albatrosses have halved over the last 35 years on sub-antarctic Bird Island according to a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The research, led by scientists at British Antarctic Study (BAS), attributes this decline to environmental change, and to deaths in longline and trawl fisheries (known as bycatch).
Albatrosses are the world's most threatened family of birds. There are 22 species; according to the IUCN Red List, 17 of these are 'Threatened with extinction' and the remaining five are considered to be 'Near-threatened'. BAS scientists at Bird Island have been monitoring the populations since 1972.
By analysing the breeding histories of more than 36,000 individually ringed albatrosses, researchers have found decreases in the survival rates of both adults and juveniles, causing serious declines in population growth rates with long-lasting effects.