Short-tailed albatross chicks moved because of volcano danger

Phoebastria albatrus, short-tailed albatross

From BirdLife:

Short-tailed Albatross chicks moved out of the shadow of the volcano


Ten Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastria albatrus chicks have been moved by helicopter, from their current stronghold on Torishima Island to the site of a former colony 350 km to the South-east.

The potential for future volcanic events on Torishima is among the most serious threats to this Vulnerable species. Currently, 80-85% of the world population breeds on a highly erodible slope on the outwash plain from the caldera of an active volcano. Monsoons send torrents of ash-laden water down this slope across the colony site. A volcanic eruption could also send lava, ash or poisonous gases through the colony.

The translocation site, Mukojima, part of Japan’s Bonin Islands (and administratively part of the Metropolis of Tokyo), is non-volcanic. Short-tailed Albatross bred here at least until the 1920s.

“Establishing viable breeding colonies in other safer locations is paramount to ensuring the survival and recovery of the Short-tailed Albatross”, said Judy Jacobs of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which has worked on the translocation of the albatross chicks with staff from the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology, and other Japanese and US organisations which together form the Short-tailed Albatross Recovery Team (START).

The ten chicks had reached the “post-guard” state, when parents leave them alone for increasing periods, but were still some three months away from fledging. “The key assumption to this approach is that geographic imprinting on the nesting island occurs after this time; chicks that fledge from a translocation site will return to breed at their fledging site, not their hatching site”, Kiyoaki Ozaki explained.

START personnel, who hand-reared Laysan and Black-footed Albatross Phoebastria nigripes chicks in preparation for this project, will spend the next three months feeding the chicks, before they take wing and head out to sea. It will be five years before they reach sexual maturity and are ready to return to breed.

Satellite tracking albatrosses to discover where they range across fishing grounds: here.

The Parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) have added the three North Pacific species of albatross, Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastria albatrus, Laysan Albatross Phoebastria immutabilis and Black-footed Albatross Phoebastria nigripes to Annex 1 of the Agreement: here.

Japan breeding program aims to save rare albatross: here.

The endangered short-tailed albatross is breeding in the Ogasawara Islands south of Tokyo for the first time since the end of the war. The finding on Nakodo Island, announced Thursday by the Environment Ministry, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology, is considered significant for a species that once faced the threat of extinction: here.

7 thoughts on “Short-tailed albatross chicks moved because of volcano danger

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