Other Free Encyclopedias » Animal Life Resource » Birds » Tubenosed Seabirds: Procellariiformes - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Tubenosed Seabirds And People, Conservation Status - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE

Tubenosed Seabirds: Procellariiformes - Conservation Status

petrels drift albatross albatrosses

Twenty-three of the 108 species are threatened with extinction. One species, the Guadalupe storm-petrel, has become extinct since 1600. The primary threat is the introduction of predators to the breeding islands.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Procellariiforms smell really bad. Experts attribute this smell to the oil in the birds' stomachs. Giant petrels are nicknamed "stinkers" because of the intensity of their odor.
  • Some seafarers believed albatrosses were good omens and that killing one would bring bad luck.
  • Other fishermen considered it bad luck to see an albatross.
  • Folklore has it that procellariiforms are the embodiment of the souls of cruel sea captains or drowned sailors, destined to wander the seas for all eternity.
  • Albatrosses are well known for being able to follow ships for thousands of miles (kilometers).
  • Despite the superstition that to kill an albatross would bring bad luck, sailors used albatross feet for tobacco pouches even into the late 1800s.

Prior to 1991, drift-net fishing was allowed. This is a type of fishing in which large nets were cast onto the waters and then hauled in. Although drift-nets efficiently caught large numbers of fish with little effort, they also caught other wildlife, including dolphins and seabirds. Drift-net fisheries were believed to be responsible for the deaths of 500,000 seabirds every year. Despite the ban on drift-net fishing, thousands of procellariiforms are still killed by long-line fisheries, a method in which long, thick hooks are baited and cast out to sea; the hooks often get caught in the necks of albatrosses, and this method catches a lot of "trash" sea life, similar to drift-netting fisheries, and trawl, a bag-like net is carried along by a boat, catching everything in its wake. A 1991 study estimated that 44,000 albatrosses are killed in Japan each year by these methods.


FOR MORE INFORMATION

Books:

Bent, Arthur Cleveland. Life Histories of North American Petrels and Pelicans and Their Allies. New York: Dover Publications, 1987.

Robbins, Chandler S., et al. Birds of North America: A Guide to Field Indentification. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2001.

Servenly, Vincent. Flight of the Shearwater. Kenthurst, Australia: Kangaroo Press, 1997.

Warham, John. The Petrels: Their Ecology and Breeding System. London and San Diego: Academic Press, 1990.


Periodicals:

Braasch, Gary. "Antarctic Mystery—Why Are Southern Giant Petrels Thriving on One Peninsula, But Declining Almost Everywhere Else?" International Wildlife (March–April 2001): 52–57.

Deneen, Sally. "Going, Going . . . Exotic Species are Decimating America's Native Wildlife." E: The Environmental Magazine (May–June 2002): 34–39.

Sessions, Laura. "Date With Extinction: For a Thousand Years Before People Settled in New Zealand, a Small Alien Predator May Have Been Undermining the Islands' Seabird Population." Natural History (April 2003): 52–57.


Web sites:

"Albatross and Petrels (Procellariiformes)." Earthlife. http://www.earthlife.net/birds/procellariiformes.html (accessed on May 13, 2004).


Organizations

NatureServe. http://www.natureserve.org (accessed on July 13, 2004).

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