Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels - Data Portal

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Indian yellow-nosed albatross

Thalassarche carteri (Mathews, 1912)

Albatros de l’océan Indien
Albatros clororrinco del Índico

Updated on 8-Aug-2008
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable Near Threatened Least Concern Not Listed
Sometimes referred to as
Eastern yellow-nosed albatross
Indian yellow-nosed mollymawk
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
Compiled by
Recommended Citation

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SpeciesT. carteri

Originally classified as Diomedea chlororhynchos(Rothchild 1903), Thalassarche carteri was elevated to specific status when Diomedea chlororhynchos was placed in the genus Thalassarche [11 ] and split into two species: T. chlororhynchos (Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross) and T. carteri (Indian yellow-nosed albatross) [12 ]. The recognition of T. chlororhynchos and T. carteri remains controversial [11 ] but this classification has been adopted by ACAP [1 ], Birdlife International [14 ], and several recent field guides of southern ocean seabirds [15-17 ].


Breeding Biology

Thalassarche carteri nests colonially and is and annual breeding species; each breeding cycle lasts about 8 months. Eggs are laid in September-October and are incubated for 78 days before hatching in November-December (Table 1). Chicks fledge in March-April after approximately 115 days in the nest [18, 19 ].

Breeding Sites

Thalassarche carteri breed on the French subantarctic island groups of Amsterdam, St Paul, Crozet, and Kerguelen Islands. They also breed on South Africa’s Prince Edward Islands (Figure 1). Approximately 65% of the global population occurs on Amsterdam Island (Table 3). In 1998 the breeding population was estimated to be approximately 36,500 breeding pairs, corresponding to a total population of between 160,000 and 180,000 individuals [20 ].  A single pair of T. carteri has been recorded on the Chatham Islands off the east coast of New Zealand [20 ] and although significant, this population is so small it is not considered further in this assessment.

Breeding site name Jurisdiction Latitude Longitude Size of breeding site (hectares)
Falaise d'Entrecasteaux, Amsterdam France 37° 50' S 77° 33' E 40,000
Île de Croÿ, Iles Nuageuses & Clugny France 48° 38' S 68° 39' E
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
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
The Pyramid, The Pyramid New Zealand 44° 26' S 176° 14' W


Nature of threat Threat sub-category Severity of threat Scope of threat Breeding site name Threat species
Parasite or pathogen Pathogen Medium Very High Falaise d'Entrecasteaux Pasteurella multocida
Parasite or pathogen Pathogen Medium Very High Falaise d'Entrecasteaux Pasteurella multocida
Parasite or pathogen Pathogen High Very High Falaise d'Entrecasteaux Pasteurella multocida
Parasite or pathogen Pathogen High High Falaise d'Entrecasteaux Pasteurella multocida

Foraging Ecology and Diet

The feeding behaviour of T. carteri is characterised by surface seizing and shallow dives. During the breeding season birds from Iles Crozet feed on a wide range of squid (38% fresh mass) and fish (58% fresh mass) taxa, with crustaceans being taken less frequently (4% fresh mass) [40 ].  A study on Amsterdam Island found approximately the same diet proportions [41 ].

Marine Distribution

Satellite tracking data are only currently available from breeding T. carteri from Amsterdam Island. These birds largely stay within 1800 km of their nest site during this stage of the annual cycle (Figure 3) [41, 42, 43 ]. The non-breeding range is largely taken from sea records reported in monographs and field guides [e.g. 17, 22 ]. These indicate that during winter T. carteri disperse from their breeding islands and commonly occur off southern Africa and Australia (Figure 1). This species is also known to occur through the Tasman Sea and as far east as the Chatham Islands but its abundance in the western Pacific is not well documented [20, 21, 23 ].

Frequency of occurrence in region
Resident/ Breeding and feeding rangeForaging range onlyFew records - outside core foraging range

Known ACAP Range StatesFrance
South Africa
AustraliaNew Zealand

Regional Fisheries Management OrganisationsIOTC

Exclusive Economic Zones of non-ACAP countriesMadagascar

CCAMLR - Comission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources
CCSBT - Convention for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna
IOTC - Indian Ocean Tuna Commission
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

Marine Threats

On Amsterdam Island the decline in T. carteri numbers is likely a result of the combined impacts of disease (see above) and interactions with longline fishing across their range. Thalassarche carteri overlap with fishing operations targeting tuna species in waters off West Australia, as well as sub-tropical waters [38, 44 ].  This species is also known to be killed in longline fishing operations targeting Patagonian Toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) in the waters adjacent to the Prince Edward Islands [45 ].  Recently, there has been a report of one bird bycaught on a demersal longline off the east coast of the lower North Island, New Zealand [46 ].

Key Gaps in Species Assessment

Further information on the disease prevalence and impacts on the species is required and appropriate management and mitigation measures to control and limit spread of the disease should be implemented as a priority.  The distribution of these birds at sea is known only for birds whilst breeding at Amsterdam Island. Information on the distribution of birds of different age classes, at different stages of the annual cycle, and from different sites is also required to better assess overlap with fishing operations.

Information on population trends and demographic parameters are limited to the Amsterdam Island population only. The monitoring of the population trends and demographic parameters should be continued in order to keep up to date with any changes in population trends and rates of adult and juvenile survival.  Studies to ascertain the trends and survival of T. carteri at other sites are also lacking



Compiled by

Michael C. Double, Rosemary Gales, and Nadeena Beck.