In a new study, albatrosses have been closely watched as they patrol over 47 million square miles of ocean. It turned out that the giant birds probably revealed extensive poaching in Antarctica.
169 albatrosses were equipped with a light, high-tech communication equipment that not only provided the researchers with the position of the birds, but also with information about ship radar nearby. As albatrosses fly over huge areas and are attracted to fishing boats, they could be used as effective monitoring of international waters. The equipment did not seem to disturb the birds.
For six months, researchers obtained data from 47 million square kilometers of sea and were able to establish that illegal fishing appears widespread. One third of the ships moving in Antarctic waters were probably fishing illegally. It was discovered, among other things, that ships turned off their automatic signals as they approached areas where fishing is not allowed.
The researchers behind the study believe that the albatrosses have shown that they are an effective and inexpensive method of monitoring these areas. Patrolling with aircraft is difficult and expensive and satellite monitoring also costs a lot of money.
A similar technology is now being tested with sharks and turtles to detect illegal fishing elsewhere in the world.