What We Do

Seabird Conservation

Our oceans have an amazing diversity and abundance of life. They also play a huge role in sustaining human populations. Seabirds are one of the most threatened group of birds in the world, with 15 out of 22 species of albatross threatened with extinction. They are also an important indicator of ocean health, and it’s our mission to conserve them.

We save seabirds from going extinct by working directly with fishing industries, and national and international governments. The globally acclaimed Albatross Task Force works locally and the Common Oceans Project internationally, to achieve this goal.

The Albatross Task Force and the Coastal Seabirds are key stakeholders in government fora to ensure that information is translated into on the ground change, creating a crucial bridge between research and policy. We are also an active member of the Responsible Fisheries Alliance which drives responsible fishing practices in southern African to ensure healthy marine ecosystems underpin a robust seafood industry.

The dire status of many of our seabird populations requires targeted interventions to help save the species. One of our species programmes focuses on the iconic African Penguins, which have decreased in number by over 90% since the 1900s. We aim to protect the penguins on land – through establishing new colonies – and at sea – by tracking their movements to find important foraging areas. Marion Island is a South African territory in the south Atlantic which is home to several threatened seabird species, including nearly half of the world’s Wandering Albatrosses. Unfortunately, these birds are threatened by an unlikely but voracious predator: the house mouse. We are partnering with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries and others in a collaborative effort, Mouse Free Marion, to eradicate mice from the island, using methods employed in other successful eradications.

Protection of seabird habitat is complicated. Protecting breeding areas is one aspect, but seabirds need vast tracts of ocean habitat for feeding. We are involved in creative solutions for protecting habitat, such as the proclamation of marine IBAs using tracking data, building a database of at-sea observations through AS@S, and advocating for the spatial management of fisheries.