Status of White-capped Albatross in Australia

To: Birding-aus <>
Subject: Status of White-capped Albatross in Australia
From: Peter Milburn <>
Date: Mon, 3 Jun 2002 17:32:13 +1000
In response to Mike Carter's statement

'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.'

Please refer to the last Wollongong Boat trip Report!  In Mike's own words
"I wondered why I was bothering to collect all this data if it is going to
be ignored. So I wrote this."

White-capped Albatross are indeed common in NSW waters, with the notable
exception of the winter of 2001.  Mike's comments about Indic and
Yellow-nosed Albatross are of course right on the money.  However, the way
the population is going Indic Yellow-nosed Albatross may be infrequent
sooner rather than later.

Shy Albatross is probably better considered as the Australian form of
White-capped Albatross, since Salvin's and Chatham are also New Zealand
species.  In fairness to Mike there are not good published data.  SOSSA has
been working since 1994 on this problem and we are currently writing
reports in this area.  White-capped and Shy Albatross are clearly 2
different taxa, regardless of the name that one might assign to the taxon
itself.  Lack of belief in this distinction prevents people from seeing the

Dr P.J. Milburn
Biomolecular Resource Facility
Australian National University
GPO Box 334
ACT 0200

+61 2 6125 4173 'Phone
+61 2 6125 4326 FAX

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