9th December 2019

In_pictures Menacing mice attack albatross on Gough Island

In_pictures Menacing mice attack albatross on Gough Island

In_pictures

New video footage captured, by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), on Gough Island in the South Atlantic shows that mice are attacking adult albatrosses. This is the first time this behaviour has been documented with previous footage showing the mice attacking and devouring the chicks.

‘We have known for more than a decade that the mice on Gough Island attack and kill seabird chicks. While this is already of great concern, attacks on adults, which can produce dozens of chicks in their lifetime, could be devastating for the populations’ chances of survival,” says Chris Jones, senior Gough field assistant.

Some readers might find some of these images distressing.

in_pictures Mice attacking an albatrosses chick on the Island of Gough in the South AtlanticImage copyright
RSPB

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Mice were introduced to the 91-sq-km volcanic island by sailors during the 19th Century. The rodents have adapted to the limited resources on the small piece of land by developing a taste for seabird eggs and chicks.

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in_pictures An albatross being attacked by a mouse on the Island of Gough in the South Atlantic.Image copyright
RSPB

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They have now been filmed attacking adult albatrosses for the first time.

in_pictures Injuries to an albatrosses after it was attacked by a mouse on the Island of Gough in the South AtlanticImage copyright
RSPB

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Such attacks on adult albatrosses is only known from one other island in the world – Marion Island.

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in_pictures Injuries to an albatrosses after it was attacked by a mouse on the Island of Gough in the South AtlanticImage copyright
RSPB

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Gough Island hosts 99% of the world’s critically endangered Tristan albatross and Atlantic petrel populations – two species especially vulnerable to mouse predation because their chicks are left alone in winter.

in_pictures An albatross chick is attacked by a mouse on the Island of Gough in the South Atlantic.Image copyright
RSPB

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Video cameras placed alongside nests have revealed what happens in them.

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in_pictures An albatross chick is attacked by a mouse on the Island of Gough in the South Atlantic.Image copyright
RSPB

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The mice, in groups of up to nine, attack the birds and, in the case of chicks, can eat them alive.

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in_pictures The Island of Gough in the South Atlantic.Image copyright
RSPB

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Gough Island is considered to be one of the world’s most important seabird colonies, hosting more than 10 million birds.

All pictures copyright RSPB.

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