Above picture: The Marion team display their World Albatross Day banner with a snow-topped Junior’s Kop behind; photograph from Michelle Risi (fourth from left, standing)

The 2023/24 Overwintering Team (M80) on South Africa’s sub-Antarctic Marion Island posed last week with a Mouse-Free Marion (MFM) banner to mark World Albatross Day today.  The whole 19-strong team gathered for the photograph, including Camilla Smyth (standing third from right in the above photograph), MFM Project’s current research assistant on the island, and long-time project supporter, Michelle Risi, who designed and helped make the banner.

The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) strives to conserve albatrosses and petrels by coordinating international activities to mitigate threats to their populations.  In 2019 ACAP’s Advisory Committee declared that a conservation crisis continues to be faced by its 31 listed species, with thousands of albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters dying every year because of fisheries operations and from other threats.  To help raise awareness of this crisis ACAP inaugurated a World Albatross Day in 2020 to be held on the 19th of June, the date the Agreement was signed in 2001.  The inaugural theme for World Albatross Day was “Eradicating Island Pests”, followed by “Ensuring Albatross-friendly Fisheries” in 2021, and by “Climate Change” in 2022.  To mark the fourth World Albatross Day, being celebrated today, the adopted theme is “Plastic Pollution”.

Making the banner by projecting the computer design onto a sheet and lettering by hand. From left: Michelle Risi, Zafar Monier and Tammy Eggeling; photograph by Chris Jones

Four species of albatrosses breed regularly on Marion Island, all are categorized as globally threatened.  These four species, Grey-headed, Light-mantled, Sooty and Wandering, have all been shown to be victims of attacks by the island’s introduced House Mice, leading to mortalities of both adults and chicks.

To support ACAP’s awareness raising, BirdLife South Africa on behalf of the MFM Project has sponsored the production of three posters in the ACAP Species Infographic series, for the Light-mantled, Sooty and Wandering Albatrosses, the last depicted here.  An infographic for the Grey-headed Albatross has been sponsored by the Australian Antarctic Program.  All four infographics, by Thai illustrator, Namasri ‘Namo’ Niumim, draw attention to the deleterious effects of Marion’s mice.  The infographics may be freely downloaded from here at a high resolution to allow for printing professionally in two poster sizes (approximately A2 and A3).  Please note they are only being made available by ACAP when engaging in activities that will aid in drawing attention to the conservation crisis being faced by the world’s albatrosses and petrels, or for personal use.  They should not be used for personal gain.

In addition, ACAP Species Infographics are to be produced from the second half of the year for four petrels that breed at Marion Island that are known, or are thought to be, attacked by mice: the Grey, Northern Giant, Southern Giant and White-chinned.  The last will also be sponsored by BirdLife South Africa on behalf of the MFM Project.

By eradicating invasive mice from Marion, the MFM Project will help achieve a more favourable conservation future for the island and its globally important seabirds, which include eight ACAP-listed species.

With thanks to Michelle Risi, Marine Apex Predator Research Unit, Nelson Mandela University.  Team members Tammy Eggeling, Chris Jones and Zafar Monier helped make the banner.

John Cooper, News Correspondent, Mouse-Free Marion Project, 19 June 2023


A Grey-headed Albatross on Marion Island; photograph and poster design by Michelle Risi

The Mouse-Free Marion Project is a registered non-profit company (No. 2020/922433/08) in South Africa, established to eradicate the invasive albatross-killing mice on Marion Island in the Southern Ocean.  The project was initiated by BirdLife South Africa and the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.  Upon successful completion, the project will restore the critical breeding habitat of over two million seabirds, many globally threatened, and improve the island’s resilience to a warming climate.  For more information or to support the project please visit mousefreemarion.org