Matsudaira's Storm Petrel and Oil Leak Report

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Subject: Matsudaira's Storm Petrel and Oil Leak Report
From: Simon Mustoe <>
Date: Fri, 23 Oct 2009 22:37:55 +0000

For general interest, my report detailing sightings and distribution of 
seabirds over the northwest shelf near the Montara Oil Spill is up on the WWF 
website: I thought 
birding-aus members may be interested in reading about the observations from a 
rarely visited area.

It has been particularly interesting to note the status of Matsudaira's Storm 
Petrel. Rohan Clarke and I were discussing the possibility that the northwest 
shelf may be the principal non-breeding location for this species. "The 
encounter rate of 26 birds in 59 hours (0.44 birds/hr) [seen in the recent 
survey] is slightly
higher than 20 birds seen in 61 hours (0.33 birds/hr) south of Ashmore
Reef in 2004 and less than the 50 birds seen in 64 hours (0.78
birds/hr) in 2008."  These encounter rates, if extrapolated to other parts of 
the Timor Sea would seem to indicate a very large number of birds. Rohan is 
going to try to collect some distance sampling data on the forthcoming Ashmore 
Reef trip so we can think a bit more about possible densities.

The world population best estimate for this data-deficient species is 20,000 
 based on the fact it is currently known only from the Iwo Islands south of 
Japan. I've concluded in my report that this species is possibly one more 
likely to be at risk from coming into contact with oil, especially given its 
apparent conservation status.

Despite the seriousness of the situation, it was fun anchored on a shoal in 17m 
of water nearly 400 miles offshore, one mile from a 300m drop-off and having 
Leach's Storm Petrel, Bulwer's Petrel and possible Swinhoe's Petrel drifting 
past about 100m from the boat at dusk. There are a few photos from the trip 


Simon Mustoe.

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