The Antipodean wandering albatross Diomedea antipodensis antipodensis has been in sharp decline for over a decade with males declining at ~ 6% per annum and females at ~ 8% per annum. The number of males and females in the breeding population before 2004 was approximately even but there are now more than two adult males for every adult female, with the population of breeding females only 42% of its 2004 level.
The decline appears to be driven in large part by high female mortality, though reduced breeding success and increased recruitment age have exacerbated the problem. Although there has recently been a levelling off in the number of nesting birds, this apparent improvement has been driven by an increase in the proportion of birds breeding and high recent recruitment, neither of which is sustainable. Female survivorship in 2018 improved, but survivorship in 2017 was very low and there is no evidence of a sustained improvement in female survival.
The deployment of 65 satellite tracking devices in January and February 2019 provided the opportunity to better describe the foraging range of various life-history stages, and to identify overlap with fishing fleets that may be increasing Antipodean wandering albatross mortality through bycatch. A range of tracking devices and technologies were used. The overlap between birds and high sea longline fisheries occurs mostly in winter and spring, by which time many devices had failed. Realtime tracking allowed detection of the capture of at least 2 females likely bycaught in fisheries, one bycatch event being confirmed by an international observer on the vessel involved. Tracking should be undertaken for several years preferably using lighter (<30g) and more reliable satellite transmitters to encompass different seasonal oceanic conditions, to help identify fishing fleets with high levels of spatial and temporal overlap with Antipodean wandering albatrosses.