The Conservation Foundation's bird race to raise funds and highlight the perils of migration ended in a farce when only one bird made it to the finish.
The Tasmanian Shy Albatrosses were electronically tagged for the Ladbrokes.com Big Bird Race. But 17 have yet to show up at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, the birds' natural migration finish line.
Despite the fiasco, the organisers claimed the inability to track the birds succeeded in raising awareness of bird deaths from longline fishing.
But Tim Nevard, the charity's scientific adviser, admitted: "We will never be sure how many birds died through predation by sharks or sea eagles, succumbed to the weather, were longlined by pirate fishing boats or went offline through technology malfunction."
Ladbrookes plans to donate around £15,000 to seabird conservation projects.