Albatrosses and western attitudes to killing wild birds



Publication Details

Barwell, G. C. ([2013], 2014). Albatrosses and western attitudes to killing wild birds. In M. J. Boyde (Eds.), Captured: The Animal Within Culture (pp. 84-107). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Additional Publication Information

ISBN: 9781137330499


In the 1980s I began going on pelagic seabirding trips off the East coast of New South Wales, first from Sydney then from Wollongong. For someone with an existing interest in birds, these offered a way to see wildlife which could not be easily seen from shore. Wollongong is particularly well located for albatrosses in that squid breed just off shore each winter then die after breeding, with their bodies providing a rich food source for a good range of birds and other animals. A feature of the Wollongong pelagic trips, organised by the Southern Oceans Seabird Study Association (SOSSA), is the bird banding activities, primarily involving albatrosses and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, conducted by SOSSA members. Birds are caught in hand-held nets, brought on board, banded, measured and released, with banding data shared with seabird workers worldwide via the Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme. Seeing albatrosses up close has a powerful emotional impact on those aboard and in my case led to my joining SOSSA and supporting their pelagic trips and efforts to add to existing knowledge about albatrosses and other seabirds. Such close encounters with the briefly-captured birds also stimulated a wider interest in the connections between albatrosses and humans, thus allowing me to combine my intellectual pursuits with practical support for the object of my study.

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