albatross

Where do plastic bottle caps go? A lot of them end up in the ocean. 75% of ocean debris is made of plastic. And it doesn’t just float around. A lot of it ends up killing marine life, like this young albatross.

We talked with marine biology professor Richard Thompson yesterday, and he said:

It’s not about banning plastics. It’s about thinking about the ways that we deal with plastics at the end of their lifetime to make sure that we capture the resource.

On Midway Island, where this photo was taken, 1/3 of albatross chicks die from ingesting plastic. This image comes from photographer Chris Jordan, who says:

For me kneeling over their carcasses is like looking into a macabre mirror. These birds reflect back an appallingly emblematic result of the collective trance of our consumerism and runaway industrial growth.

Jordan directed a film about Midway Island and you can explore more of his pictures here.

4

The heartwarming moment when two waved albatross (Phoebastria irrorata) lovers recognise each other and reunite after much time apart.

This albatross is unique in being the largest bird in the Galapagos Islands, and the only albatross species found entirely within the tropics. Waved albatross mate for life; a relationship that starts with an elaborate courtship ritual. This routine is a precise sequence of moves, which includes rapidly circling and bowing their bills, clacking their beaks together and raising their bills skyward whilst letting out a “whoo-ooo” call.

Presumably monogamy evolved in situations where young have a much better chance of surviving if both parents cooperate in rearing them. Nonetheless, the amount of time and energy invested by monogamous male parents varies greatly. By the way, 90 percent of all bird species are monogamous.

Salvin’s Albatross (Thalassarche salvini)

Also known as Salvin’s mollymawk, Salvin’s albatross is a species of mollymawk (Thalassarche spp.) which is known to breed in colonies on three island groups in the Southern Ocean, the Ile des Pingouins, the Crozet Islands in the Indian Ocean and the Bounty Islands and the Snares to the south of New Zealand, the Pyramid, and Forty-Fours Island. At sea Salvin’s albatrosses can range from South across to Australia and as far east as the coast of South America.  Like other albatrosses T. salvini feeds pelagically on a range of fish and cephalopods. 

Currently Thalassarche salvini is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN, as they are currently experiencing a decline, the exact reason is unknown but it is though that trawlers and longline fisheries are a factor. 

Classification

Animalia-Chordata-Aves-Procellariiformes-Diomedeidae-Thalassarche-T. salvini

Image:  JJ Harrison

youtube

The world’s oldest wild bird just became a mother. 

Wisdom, a 63-year-old Laysan Albatross, is doing her part to reverse her species’ endangered status. She hatched what scientist’s believe could be her 35th baby. 

Thousands of albatrosses live on islands in the Midway Atoll, located 1,250 miles west-northwest of Honolulu. The average life span for a Laysan Albatross is 12-40 years

L. Katz

Preening ~ Grey-headed Albatrosses (Thalassarche chrysostoma)  in Tussock Grass, Diego Ramirez Islands, Southern Chile.

Preening is a bird’s way of grooming its feathers to keep them in the best condition. While preening, birds will remove dust, dirt and parasites from their feathers and align each feather in the optimum position relative to adjacent feathers and body shape. Most birds will preen several times a day to keep themselves healthy.

  • Photo Credit: Graham Robertson ~ Australian Antarctic Division