Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Ellen MacArthur gives support to albatrosses

"I think the Southern Ocean without albatrosses would be dead: it just wouldn't be the same place at all” is the passionate comment from Dame Ellen MacArthur in an hour-long documentary highlighting her voyage of discovery to South Georgia to learn more about the plight of these magnificent birds.

In Ellen MacArthur and the Albatross – broadcast tonight (Tuesday 12 June) on BBC4 at 9 pm – the round-the-world sailor visits South Georgia’s albatross colonies, where she enjoys close encounters with Wandering Albatrosses and hears more from seabird experts about these birds’ inexorable slide towards extinction.

Nineteen of the world’s 22 species of albatross are threatened with extinction, largely at the hands of the longline fishing industry. Measures are now being taken through the direct intervention of Albatross Task Force crews, who are working with longline trawlers to implement practical steps to reduce seabird deaths. Their difficult work, highlighted in a special feature in the forthcoming July issue of Birdwatch, is essential if these majestic birds are to stand any chance of survival.

Matthew Dyas, producer of Ellen MacArthur and the Albatross, said: “For Ellen, the symbol of the Southern Ocean is the albatross, the lonely wanderer that accompanies her south through the ‘Roaring Forties’. The albatross is also the perfect symbol for Ellen herself – these graceful pelagic seabirds lap the world endlessly, capable of flying over 1,000 miles a day and remaining at sea for 10 years without touching land.

“Ellen’s is the perfect voice to articulate the albatrosses’ important story. She is one of the most remarkable people of her generation and has a powerful emotional connection with the albatross, her constant companion on voyages through the Southern Ocean.”

Programme screening: Tue 12 Jun, 21:00-22:00 60mins

Image: Black-browed Albatross courtesy of the Save the Albatross campaign