Albatross Task Force (ATF)
The ATF team was awarded a grant from BirdLife International’s Marine Programme to support the analysis of the seabird tracking data for the development of spatial distribution maps of foraging pelagic seabirds. Reason Nyengera was granted access from data holders for 30% of the pelagic seabird tracking data we have requested towards this project. Andrea Angel worked with ATF-Chile in looking at solutions to an emerging bycatch issue related to seabirds and a sticky grease used on trawl cables which is causing birds to foul their feathers when they collide with the trawl cables. This issue was resolved in our trawl fishery several years ago and no longer occurs. She visited the Cape Town harbour, together with Victor Ngcongo, to brief the skipper on the deployment of a pilot bird-scaring line monitoring device as part of the ACAP (Agreement for the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels) project. She also worked with Zonke Gumede from CapMarine, finalising the fisheries observer’s seabird sampling protocols and data collection forms. Reason completed the first Module of the Geospatial Ecology and Remote Sensing online course he has been working on for the past three weeks. The team, together with other BirdLife South Africa staff attended a meeting with the WILDTRUST aimed at finding ways to collaborate on bycatch issues and marine protected areas, through their marine programme WILDOCEANS.
Gough Island Restoration Programme
Nini van der Merwe has been engaging with the newly appointed Overwintering Team to discuss the various bits of field kit and equipment they will require for their year on the island. She has also been working on the procurement list for the September take-over voyage.
Mouse Free Marion
Nini wrapped up some administrative tasks that came out of the meeting held with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries & Environment (DFFE) and the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP) last week. She has also been working on terms of reference for the various committees that need to be established for the project to move forward. She engaged with potential donors on the project and had brief communications with the website developer. Updates to the website are currently slow, given reduced capacity in their company due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.
Christina Hagen went to the new colony site at the De Hoop Nature Reserve to install a new video processing system called DeepAlert. This system will automatically classify video footage from the CCTV monitoring cameras and give alerts when animals trigger the cameras, which will cut down on the number of false motion triggers that have been received thus far. We are very grateful to DeepAlert for providing this service pro bono. Alistair McInnes completed Tegan Carpenter-Kling’s induction for her new post as Coastal Seabird Project Manager. Tegan has started working on cleaning and analysing the African Penguin tracking data. Alistair finalised and circulated recommendations for the African Penguin Island Closure Experiment in collaboration with various seabird scientists and resource managers.