CI FRIGATEBIRD ADDED TO SPECIES LIST OF THE BONN CONVENTION

In October 1017, another milestone was reached towards the protection of the critically endangered CI Frigatebird: The species was added to the list of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). It is now listed under Appendix I of the Convention that covers migratory species threatened with extinction. As such, CMS member-countries strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them. Thus, the inclusion of the species in the Convention is another important step towards saving the species from extinction.

 

 

 

 

 






CI FRIGATEBIRD SURVEYS SUCCESSFULLY ACCOMPLISHED

In September 2017, the surveys of the breeding population of the critically endangered Christmas Island Frigatebird were successfully accomplished. The surveys were conducted over two years (2016 & 2017) and encompassed 4 field seasons of in total 13 weeks. 12 field assistants from 7 different countries (Belgium, Canada, Germany, France, New Zealand, Spain and the UK,) helped systematically search many hectares of coastal rainforest and check thousands of trees for nests during long days from sunrise to sunset.

The assistants deserve particular thanks for their incredible efforts, skilled work and great spirit facing rain, heat and storms, thorns, pinnacles and steep cliffs as well as always bloodthirsty mosquitoes. Also many thanks to numerous private sponsors as well as CI Travel Exchange, Extra Divers, Indian Ocean Experiences, and CI Tourist Association – without their generous support the surveys would not have been possible.

The gathered data are currently being analysed. They will inform the development of effective protection measures for the critically endangered seabird.

More photos of the surveys can be found in the Gallery

 

 

 

 


INTERVIEW ABOUT THE CI SEABIRD PROJECT

In September 2017, Christmas Island Tourist Association interviewed Janos Hennicke, the founder and principle investigator of the CI Seabird Project, and asked him about his motivation, the project in general as well as the surveys of the CI Frigatebird in particular.

The interview can be found here

 


FURTHER POPULATION DECLINE OF THE CHRISTMAS ISLAND FRIGATEBIRD LIKELY

In January 2017, the first preliminary results of the 2016 population surveys (see also below) of the CI Frigatebird were presented. The findings suggest a further decline of the species’ population by up to 17 % since 2013, when the last counts were conducted. Even though a population decline had to be expected, a rate as high as that would be highly alarming.

CI Frigatebirds, however, breed only every other year. Thus, the 2017 surveys have to be waited for to unequivocally determine the current population size and to quantify the population decline. Thus, the surveys of 2017 are crucial – let’s hope that the Australian authorities will support the work of the Seabird Project accordingly.

 

 

 




NEW THREAT TO CHRISTMAS ISLAND: MINING COMPANY WANTS TO RESUME LOGGING

In 2016, after several relatively calm years, CI Phosphate (CIRP), the mining company on Christmas Island, quietly started another attempt to get permission to clear cut Christmas Island rainforest to exploit phosphate rich soil underneath it. Logging, however, would destroy valuable breeding habitat of endangered Abbott’s Boobies and also negatively affect other fauna and flora, including other endemic species. By interventions of conservationist including the Seabird Project, it was possible to put the plans of the mine on hold in October 2016. However, the mine has not given up its plans yet.

In December 2016, Tim Low, a well-known Australian writer and a supporter of the Seabird Project (see also below), published an article which gives a great overview of the issue. You can find the article here.


NEW EPBC STATUS FOR CHRISTMAS ISLAND FRIGATEBIRD

In December 2016, the EPBC status category of the CI Frigatebird was changed from “Vulnerable” to “Endangered”.

The CI Frigatebird is actually considered “Critically Endangered” by international experts. It is listed under that category on the Red List of IUCN. On Australia’s Red List, the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act), however, the species was only listed as “Vulnerable”. Of course, that did not really help protect the seabird in the country to which the species is endemic. After years of appealing by the Seabird Project and other experts, the Australian Government has changed the EPBC status of the species to “Endangered” which reflects its situation much better.

Let’s hope that the status change will result in serious commitment of Australian authorities to save the frigatebird from extinction and to finally provide financial means for its protection.


BLOG ON THE CRITICALLY ENDANGERED CHRISTMAS ISLAND FRIGATEBIRD

In November 2016, acknowledged writer and long-term supporter of the Seabird Project, Tim Low, posted an interesting blog on the peril of the CI Frigatebird. Please find the blog here

 

 

 

 

 




MARINE LITTER BECOMES ART

On the occasion of Bird and Nature Week 2016, Lisa Preston, tourist agent on Christmas Island, collected litter that was washed up the beaches of CI and made nice artwork out of it.

Marine litter, plastic in particular, is a global problem, substantially affecting the oceans and their biodiversity. Also seabirds suffer: they take small pieces of plastic for prey, swallow them and die. Avoiding litter on land is the best way to tackle marine pollution.




SUCCESSFUL POPULATION SURVEYS OF THE CHRISTMAS ISLAND FRIGATEBIRD

During April-May and August-September 2016, the team of the Seabird Project successfully conducted surveys of the breeding population of the CI Frigatebird. Strong and frequent rains throughout both field seasons and dense rainforest canopy made the surveys very difficult. Yet, it was possible to collect data crucial for the population estimation of the critically endangered species. The data are currently being analysed.

The surveys were made possible by generous donations from private sponsors. Many thanks to all supporters. Your help is crucial for the work of the Seabird Project.


TWO NEW PUBLICATIONS ON THE CHRISTMAS ISLAND FRIGATBIRD

In June and October 2015, new articles of the work of the Seabird Project on the CI Frigatebird were published in renowned scientific journals. The articles cover so far unknown findings which are crucial for the protection of this critically endangered seabird species.

The first article deals with the foraging ecology of the species, e.g. foraging movements and habitat selection. You can find the article here.

The second article was produced in collaboration with a colleague from the Indonesian NGO Burunglaut Indonesia that works on the protection of seabirds. The article describes the threats to the CI Frigatebirds in Indonesian waters. It can be found here.


VIDEO ON WORK OF SEABIRD PROJECT

In November 2014, a video giving interesting insights into the work of the Seabird Project was produced within the framework of the collaboration with the project EarlyLife.
Have a look at the video here.




 

 

 




CYLONE IMPACTS ON BREEDING HABITAT OF ABBOTTS BOOBIES

At the end of March 2014, the tropical cyclone "Gillian" hit Christmas Island. Wind speeds reached up to 100 km/h and large areas of primary tropical rainforest were destroyed, among them important breeding areas of the endangered Abbott's Booby.

During the field season in August and September 2014, the team of the Seabird Project collected comprehensive data on the scope of the damage to assess immediate and long-term impact on the population of the Abbott's Booby.

To read about the impact of a previous cyclone affecting seabirds on Christmas Island ("Rosie" in 2008) please click here.


ARTICLE ON THE SEABIRD PROJECT IN SCIENCENETWORK WESTERN AUSTRALIA

In October 2013, ScienceNetwork Western Australia reported on immunological work on Brown Boobies and Red-tailed Tropicbirds that was conducted within the framework of the Seabird Project. Please have a look at the article here here.


ARTICLES ON THE SEABIRD PROJECT IN AUSTRALIAN BIRDLIFE

In the March 2013 issue of Australian Birdlife, a popular Australian magazine for birders and naturalists, an article reports on the work of the Seabird Project. In particular, the article covers the research on the Endangered Abbott's Booby. You can find the article here



RESEARCH GRANT FROM THE AUSTRALIAN GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY

In December 2012, the Seabird Project was awarded a research grant from the Australian Geographic Society to continue the successful investigation on the Critically Endangered Christmas Island Frigatebird. The funds will be used to conduct the fieldwork on the species in May 2013.




DOCUMENTARY BY SORREL WILBY FROM AUSTRALIAN GEOGRAPHIC

The well-known Australian TV presenter and nature film producer Sorrel Wilby and her film team joined us in September 2011 to report on our work on the Abbott's Booby. We were filmed and interviewed while catching an Abbott's Booby on its nest in the rainforest canopy to attach a GPS logger.

The footage will be part of a documentary on Christmas Island within the framework of Sorrel's TV series Best of Australia. It will be broadcasted in Australia in 2012. In addition, an article will be published in the Australian Geographic magazine.

We hope that the appearance in the documentary and the article will draw further attention to the Seabird Project and create further awareness of the problems of the Christmas Island seabirds.

Best of Australia (Abbott's Booby) - avi

 


BIRD AND NATURE WEEK 2011

In August 2011, the 6th Christmas Island Bird and Nature Week took place. Like every year, the participants accompanied us during the fieldwork on Abbott's Booby and Christmas Island Frigatebird. They got detailed insights into the work of the Seabird Project and the threats to the seabirds. At the end of the week, the participants were so impressed by our investigations and commitment that they made a generous donation to the Seabird Project. Thanks a lot!


WWF STAMPS OF THE CHRISTMAS ISLAND FRIGATEBIRD

Using a number of photos of the Seabird Project, the WWF designed a series of stamps of the Christmas Island Frigatebird together with an information package on this species in 2010.


AUSPEX AUSTRALIS ART PROJECT

The Trajectory Art Project (see below) was developed further and in 2010 AUSPEX AUSTRALIS was performed live and with great success at the Planetarium of the SciTech Centre in Perth. More information on Auspex Australis …


ARTICLE IN THE AUSTRALIAN

In 2010, two journalists of THE AUSTRALIAN, the main international newspaper of Australia, accompanied us during fieldwork. Please find the article here.


ABBOTT'S BOOBY HELICOPTER SURVEY

During the field season 2009, we conducted a helicopter survey of the Abbott's Booby in collaboration with the Christmas Island National Park to estimate the breeding population of this endangered species.


CAT ERRADICATION TRIALS

Influenced by the shocking findings of the Seabird Project on the extreme mortality of Red-tailed Tropicbird chicks due to cat predation, Parks Australia North Christmas Island and several Australian researchers undertook a first trial of baiting feral cats in October 2008 to tackle the problem of cats severely impacting on the fauna of Christmas Island. Despite many baiting nights, however, only a few baits were eaten by the cats. Yet, a first important step has been made! In the next steps attempts will be made to improve the attractiveness of the bait to the cats before starting another trial on Christmas Island next year.


MONEY BOXES

On the occasion of the 3rd Christmas Island Bird and Nature Week in September 2008, two beautiful money boxes for donations for the Seabird Project were set up at the visitor center and at the airport. The boxes are decorated with a gorgeous paper-mâché Abbott's Booby with chick and an impressive male Christmas Island Frigatebird respectively. The boxes were skilfully designed and built by Robyn Stephenson, the art teacher of the Christmas Island High School. We hope that these beautiful boxes will make visitors and people of Christmas Island donate plenty to support the project.


THE SEABIRD PROJECT GOES ART - THE TRAJECTORY ART PROJECT

The work of the Seabird Project will be part of the multimedia art project Trajectory by Australian multimedia artist David Carson and UK sound artist Phil Mouldycliff. David accompanied the team of the Seabird Project during fieldwork in May and September, to take time-lapse photographs and video footage. Phil joined in September to for video sessions. Within the framework of the Bird and Nature Week 2008, David and Phil gave a first spectacular work-in-progress presentation in a dome projection which was very well received by the audience.

Trajectory-Projekt …


THE SEABIRDPROJECT IN THE NEW IDEA MAGAZINE

The Christmas Island Seabird Project made an appearance in a September 2008 issue of the Australian top selling weekly magazine New Idea. As part of an article on Christmas Island, the work of the Seabird Project was described, contact details were given, and the possibility to adopt a frigatebird was specifically promoted. New Idea is one of Australia's most popular magazines. It has a circulation of over 430.000, (more than Reader's Digest) and it reaches over 2.3 Mio readers (more than 10 % of the Australian population!). The mentioning of the Seabird Project is a huge success to create public awareness of the problems the seabirds of Christmas Island are facing! There was overwhelming feedback from readers interested in the project and in adopting a frigatebird. Hopefully this enthusiasm and concern will lead to a lot of support for the Seabird Project.

In December 2008, the article was published in New Idea New Zealand.




ABBOTT'S BOOBY STAMP

On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Christmas Island becoming part of Australia in 2008, Post Australia issued a series of stamps with motives of Christmas Island. One of the motives was a photo of an Abbott's Booby female with her chick which was taken by Dr. Janos Hennicke during the field season in 2007. The female of tree B083 was equipped with a GPS-logger to track her foraging movements. The chick fledged successfully in September 2008 - let's hope that we will see it again some time in the future and that the stamp will increase awareness of the threatened seabirds of Christmas Island.