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Re: [Mendobirds] Midway Albatrosses

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  • 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 1 of 2 , Mar 15, 2011
      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

      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.


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

      Sad day for seabirds,

      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

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

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