albatross

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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.

Decades from now When the birds are all gone When their bodies have decayed The waste of this generation Will remain Is this for posterity? Is this our legacy? _______________________ This was inspired by the film, Midway. www.midwayfilm.com/ It is a touching documentary about the Midway island that is home to 1.5 million albatrosses and many other species of wildlife. However, the island is covered in 20 tons of plastic waste. The plastics are from the Pacific Garbage Patch, estimated to be twice the size of the United States. The plastic waste, discarded from our daily lives and washed into the ocean, are now found in the stomach of many dead animals. One in three baby albatrosses living on Midway Island dies from plastic ingestion. 5 tons of plastic find their way into these baby birds ever year.  While watching the film, all I could think of was how the plastics will still be there when the corpses of the dead baby birds are long gone, and how the future generations won’t look up to see a sky full of birds, but look down to see a land filled with waste. I hope we have more that just trash as our legacy to the future.  There are simple things you can do to help reduce this problem: - Recycle. Sounds simple but means so much. By recycling, you are not only preventing the plastic trash from being put into a landfill or dumped into the ocean, you are also reducing the need to create new plastic from petroleum and all of the damages that comes with mining for oil. - Don’t litter. It’s really not hard to walk a few extra steps to make sure the trash goes into the can instead of just throwing it on the ground where it will be washed into the drains and rivers, which eventually lead to the ocean. Such simple action can save countless tons of plastic from ending up in the stomachs of baby birds.  - Go for biodegradable products. It’s not a widely available option yet, but more and more products are made with biodegradable material. When given the option, choose the right one, and avoid products that have a lot of unnecessary packaging. Instead of buying 40 bottles of water, buy one long lasting water bottle and reuse it 100 times over. This way you’ll save time and money as well as the environment. 

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.

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This female albatross (pictured above, right) is named Wisdom. At 64 years of age, she’s the oldest confirmed wild bird in the world.

Wisdom was first banded in 1956. Because members of her species (Laysan albatrosses) don’t breed until they are at least five years old, Wisdom is estimated to be 64 years old, but she might be older than that. 

She’s the oldest wild bird documented in the 90-year history of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s bird banding program.

It’s also believed the seabird, which ranges across the North Pacific, has likely logged over six million miles of ocean flight time.

After about one year at sea, Wisdom was spotted at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge this month. She was observed with her mate (pictured in the bottom two images) and is expected to lay her egg soon.

Wisdom has raised as many as 36 chicks in her lifetime. And, yes, at 60-plus years, she’s still raising young without any problems.

(Image Credits: Kiah Walker, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Source: USFWS / Wikimedia)

Top Shot: Albatross Landing

Top Shot features the photo with the most votes from the previous day’s Daily Dozen. The Daily Dozen is 12 photos chosen by the Your Shot editors each day from thousands of recent uploads. Our community has the chance to vote for their favorite from the selection.

A large cluster of marine life enjoy a massive feeding frenzy below the monolithic Eddystone Rock. The area is about 26 kilometers off Tasmania’s South East Cape and is truly a wild location. Photograph by Andy Chisholm