Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

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Sooty Albatross

Phoebetria fusca Hilsenberg,1822

Updated on 18-Jul-2009
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable Near Threatened Least Concern Not Listed
Sometimes referred to as
Conservation Listings and Plans
Breeding Biology
Breeding States
Breeding Sites
Conservation Listings and Plans for the Breeding Sites
Population Trends
Breeding Sites: Threats
Foraging Ecology and Diet
Marine Distribution
Marine Threats
Key Gaps in Species Assessment
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SpeciesP. fusca

Order       Procellariiformes

Family     Diomedeidae

Genus     Phoebetria

Species   P. fusca

The genus Phoebetria was created by Reichenbach in 1853, but included only one species, P. fuliginosa.  Although the Sooty Albatross (P. fusca) was first collected in 1822 and the similar Light-mantled Albatross (P. palpebrata) in 1795, it was not until 1913 that Cushman Murphy revised the genus to include both P. fusca and P. palpebrata [1 ]. More recent analyses of complete mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene sequences have confirmed the placement of both species within this genus [2 ]



Conservation Listings and Plans




  • Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) [6 ]

- Listed as Vulnerable

- Listed Migratory Species

- Listed Marine Species

  • Threat abatement plan for the incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations (2006) [7 ]
  •   National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant Petrels 2001 [8 ]
  • South Australia: National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 - Vulnerable (as Diomedea fusca) [9 ]
  • Tasmania: Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 - Rare [10 ]
  • Victoria: Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 - Threatened [11 ]
  • Western Australia: Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 - Wildlife Conservation (Specially Protected Fauna) Notice 2008 (2) - Vulnerable [12 ]




South Africa


Tristan da Cunha, UK Overseas Territories


Breeding Biology

Phoebetria fusca is a biennial breeder and lays a single egg with no replacement laying.  This species nests solitarily or in small colonies or clusters, building pedestal nests along sheltered cliff edges [18, 19 ].  Birds show high fidelity to nesting colonies and arrive on Marion and Gough Islands and Iles Crozet in late August but one month earlier at the main group of Tristan da Cunha Islands.  Egg laying ranges from mid-September to late October (Table 1), although synchronised within each colony, and incubation duties are shared [19 ].  Eggs hatch in early to mid-December after incubation periods averaging 70-71 days (range 66-71 days on Iles Crozet [18 ] and 69-73 days on Marion Island [19 ]); chicks are brooded for an additional 21 days.  On Iles Crozet, the average age of first breeding is 11.8 years [20 ].  Chicks fledge in May. 

Table 1.  Breeding cycle of P. fusca across all sites.  See text for site-specific periods. 















At colonies














Egg laying




























Chick provisioning
















Breeding site name Jurisdiction Latitude Longitude Size of breeding site (hectares)
Gough Island, Gough Island United Kingdom 40° 19' S 9° 55' W
Ile Amsterdam, Amsterdam France 37° 51' S 77° 31' E 40,000
Ile aux Cochons, Ile aux Cochons France 46° 05' S 50° 15' E 660,000
Ile de l'Est, Ile de l'Est France 46° 25' S 52° 10' E 1,300,000
Ile de la Possession, Ile de la Possession France 46° 24' S 51° 45' E 1,460,000
Ile des Apotres, Ile des Apotres France 45° 58' S 50° 27' E 80,000
Ile des Pingouins, Ile des Pingouins France 46° 25' S 50° 25' E
Inaccessible Island, Inaccessible Island United Kingdom 37° 19' S 12° 44' W
Jeanne d'Arc Peninsula, Kerguelen (Grande Terre) France 49° 41' S 70° 00' E
Marion Island, Marion Island South Africa 46° 54' S 37° 45' E 29,000
Nightingale, Nightingale United Kingdom 37° 26' S 12° 29' W
Prince Edward Island, Prince Edward Island South Africa 46° 38' S 37° 57' E 4,500
St Paul, St Paul France 38° 43' S 77° 32' E 80,000
Stoltenhoff Island, Stoltenhoff United Kingdom 37° 26' S 12° 28' W
Tristan da Cunha, Tristan da Cunha United Kingdom 37° 07' S 12° 17' W


Nature of threat Threat sub-category Severity of threat Scope of threat Breeding site name Threat species
Parasite or pathogen Pathogen Medium Low Ile Amsterdam Pasteurella multocida
Parasite or pathogen Pathogen Medium Medium Ile Amsterdam Pasteurella multocida
Parasite or pathogen Pathogen High Medium Ile Amsterdam Pasteurella multocida
Parasite or pathogen Pathogen High High Ile Amsterdam Pasteurella multocida
Predation by alien species Predation by alien species Low Low Marion Island Mus musculus
Predation by alien species Predation by alien species Low Low Marion Island Mus musculus
Frequency of occurrence in region
Resident/ Breeding and feeding rangeForaging range onlyFew records - outside core foraging range

Known ACAP Range StatesFrance
South Africa
United Kingdom
New Zealand

Regional Fisheries Management OrganisationsICCAT

Exclusive Economic Zones of non-ACAP countriesMauritius

CCAMLR - Comission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources
CCSBT - Convention for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna
IOTC - Indian Ocean Tuna Commission
ICCAT - International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas
SPRFMO - South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation
SEAFO - South-East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation
SWIOFC - South-West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission
SIOFA - Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement
WCPFC - Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission