The paper by Barry Baker, Rosemary Gales, Sheryl
Hamilton & Victoria Wilkinson, ‘Albatrosses and petrels in Australia: a
review of their conservation and management’, in the latest Emu,
2002, 102 (1), 71-97, unfortunately contains some significant errors.
My main beef is with ‘Table 2. Population size and status of
Procellariiformes taxa foraging but not breeding in
Here are some examples. Under the heading ‘Sighting
rate in Australian waters’, we read that the Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross is
‘Infrequent’ whereas Buller’s Albatross is ‘Common’. The truth is that
throughout Australia, Yellow-nosed Albatrosses from the Indian Ocean out-number
Buller’s Albatross by at least one, if not two, orders of magnitude! Black
Petrel and Buller’s Shearwater are said to be ‘Common’ whereas Hutton’s
Shearwater, ‘Rare’. Actually, the reverse would be nearer the mark. Black Petrel
is so rare, that Birds Australia Rarities Committee must assess sightings before
acceptance. Amsterdam Albatross is said to be rare but in fact is unknown in
Australia! White-capped Albatross, the New Zealand form of Shy Albatross is
ranked as common but how do we know? Most of us consider the diagnostics of
separating these forms at sea unreliable.
As to how they could make such errors, I looked
through the very long list of references (over 200). Some reports and important
papers such as those by Kevin Woods regarding NSW are missing but HANZAB
and others are there. But then I found ‘Woods (1988)’ cited for ‘Table 1’, but
it ain’t in the ‘References’!
For this important paper to have credibility, these
and other errors should be corrected. If allowed to stand, it could harm the
reputation of Emu.