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Midway Albatrosses

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  • Richard
    Tue Mar 15, 2011-- Before the giant earthquake that hit Japan and the tsunami that followed it, I had become interested in a couple of Albatross stories that
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 15, 2011
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      Tue Mar 15, 2011-- Before the giant earthquake that hit Japan and the tsunami that followed it, I had become interested in a couple of Albatross stories that were hitting the news. One was the story of Wisdom, a "60" year old Laysan Albatross that has laid and hatched a chick on Sand Island which is part of the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. The other was the first ever hatching of a Short-tailed Albatross on Kure Atoll near Midway.

      The tsunami that hit our coast also hit the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Most of these islands and atolls are very low lying and they host 94% of the Laysan Albatrosses population and 64% of the Black-footed Albatross population.

      It was very hard getting information from this area. While all the employees and visitors survived the tsunami well. The albatross populations took a big hit. Statements like, "entire portions of the Black-footed Albatross colony... have been washed away (Kure Atoll)" and "minima of 1000 adult/subadult and tens of thousands of Laysan Albatross chicks were lost (Eastern and Sand Island)" were shocking.

      The best account so far that I've found is at www.acap.aq/latest-news/ If you can find that account then link to, "Pete at Midway" for a some very graphic pictures and his account.

      The good news is that Wisdom and her chick survived. The Short-tailed Albatross chick survived (has had to be returned to it's nest twice since hatching) but I can't find any postings that it's parents have returned.

      Richard Hubacek
      Little River
    • Debra Shearwater
      Hello, Albatross Folks, Yes, Midway and the nesting albatrosses have been hit very hard. I was on Midway for two weeks in December as a volunteer, counting
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 15, 2011
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        Hello, Albatross Folks,

        Yes, Midway and the nesting albatrosses have been hit very hard. I
        was on Midway for two weeks in December as a volunteer, counting
        albatrosses on their eggs, both Laysans and Black-foots. And, I did
        see the Short-tailed on its egg. It never occurred to me that since
        the adults had chicks, they would not just up, and fly away, simply
        because a big wave was about to mow them down. They did not fly. They
        did not abandon their chicks. Losing the chicks is bad. But, losing
        adults is far, far more catastrophic. This will likely have a big
        impact on the population. So, both chicks and adults were seriously
        impacted.

        This is to say nothing of the burrow nesting birds. Thousands and
        thousands of Bonin Petrels would have been incubating eggs in their
        burrows. I fell in love with the Bonin's Petrels, as they would come
        out each evening, clouding the air like a great swarm of mosquitos.
        Since rats were eradicated from Midway, the petrels were able to
        return to their burrows in great numbers. Other burrow nesters
        include Tristram's Storm-Petrel and Wedge-tailed Shearwater. There is
        no way that all of the seabirds stuck in burrows could be dug out. It
        is a real tragedy for seabirds. But, nearly so much as for the
        Japanese people.

        You can see images at Pete Leahy's blog, link below. I recognize some
        of the places´┐Ż and they are bare. The nest cups are gone. The chicks
        are standing around, with no nest cups to stand in. Hard to say if
        they will survive without the nest cups. Very sad.

        http://peteatmidway.blogspot.com/

        I imagine that the staff is very busy. Pete will likely post
        something on his blog when he has time.

        Sad day for seabirds,
        Debi


        On Mar 15, 2011, at 6:25 PM, Richard wrote:

        > Tue Mar 15, 2011-- Before the giant earthquake that hit Japan and
        > the tsunami that followed it, I had become interested in a couple
        > of Albatross stories that were hitting the news. One was the story
        > of Wisdom, a "60" year old Laysan Albatross that has laid and
        > hatched a chick on Sand Island which is part of the Midway Atoll
        > National Wildlife Refuge. The other was the first ever hatching of
        > a Short-tailed Albatross on Kure Atoll near Midway.
        >
        > The tsunami that hit our coast also hit the Midway Atoll National
        > Wildlife Refuge. Most of these islands and atolls are very low
        > lying and they host 94% of the Laysan Albatrosses population and
        > 64% of the Black-footed Albatross population.
        >
        > It was very hard getting information from this area. While all the
        > employees and visitors survived the tsunami well. The albatross
        > populations took a big hit. Statements like, "entire portions of
        > the Black-footed Albatross colony... have been washed away (Kure
        > Atoll)" and "minima of 1000 adult/subadult and tens of thousands of
        > Laysan Albatross chicks were lost (Eastern and Sand Island)" were
        > shocking.
        >
        > The best account so far that I've found is at www.acap.aq/latest-
        > news/ If you can find that account then link to, "Pete at Midway"
        > for a some very graphic pictures and his account.
        >
        > The good news is that Wisdom and her chick survived. The Short-
        > tailed Albatross chick survived (has had to be returned to it's
        > nest twice since hatching) but I can't find any postings that it's
        > parents have returned.
        >
        > Richard Hubacek
        > Little River
        >
        >

        Debra Shearwater
        Shearwater Journeys, Inc.
        PO Box 190
        Hollister, CA 95024
        831.637.8527
        debi@...
        www.shearwaterjourneys.com
        www.shearwaterjourneys.blogspot.com

        SVALBARD: High Arctic Seabirds & Polar Bears, Walrus: 8-18 July &
        18-28 July, 2012







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