Oldest albatross survives Pacific tsunami


This video is called Dancing Laysan Albatross – Midway Atoll, December 2008.

By Suzan Phillips:

Elderly Albatross Survives Tsunami Damage to Midway Atoll

Published Mar 13, 2011

The Laysan Albatross, Wisdom, one of the world’s oldest known birds, and her newly hatched chick, have survived a tsunami at Midway Atoll.

14th March 2011 – Among the terrible human tragedy of the Japan earthquakes and the tsunami waves that have swept the Japanese coastline and across the Pacific ocean, comes a good news bird story.

Last week, news sources around the world celebrated Wisdom’s efforts to raise another chick when she is reported to be the oldest known albatross (according to American records), at more than 60 years old.

Wisdom had returned safely to her nest on Sand Island to raise another chick in the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific Islands.

Last Saturday, one of the tidal waves from Japan’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit Midway Atoll.

The islands of Midway Atoll include a large colony of Laysan Albatross and the second largest breeding population of Black-footed Albatross and these were nesting on the ground with eggs and chicks in the nests this week when the tsunami waves struck.

Tsunami washes away nests and chicks

Staff on Midway Atoll reported that the tsunami that hit Midway Atoll was about 1.4 metres high and flooded some parts of the island. At least some chicks and adult Laysan Albatross were killed and hundreds of chicks were washed away from their nests onto roadways and under bushes. The nests inland were not affected, and by the morning both the adults and chicks there were going about their business as usual, according to one report.

Volunteers and visitors to the island spent the afternoon freeing dozens of albatross chicks that had been washed into and caught inside thickets of naupaka. This often required hacking through the bushes with large clippers and small saws, and either crawling through the spaces or climbing on top of the branches to perch suspended over the ground. Visitors also dug out many petrels who had been trapped and buried in their burrows.

Wisdom had a nest in the inland area, and so was safe. The first Short-tailed Albatross to nest on hard hit Eastern Island was also out of danger.

Kure Atoll colonies also devastated

The colony on Kure Atoll (89km east of Midway), was also devastated. Field Camp manager, Cynthia Vanderlip from Kure Atoll Conservancy said they climbed up onto the roof of their building.

“We are all fine. We stayed on the roof from 12pm until 4 am (on March 11th). Midway called and said that the wave had passed. … I took a quick walk to see the damage at the beach and it is extensive. The wave washed about 400 feet inland,” she said.

“The Black-foot colony at the pier is gone, chicks are everywhere. Thousands of ghost crabs are cleaning up the dead. The wave washed over the top of the pier and tore the window frames out. The ocean is chocolate brown.”

“I am thankful that our building is 700 feet inland and 20 feet above sea level. We were spared, but I fear for all the other folks in the Pacific. The loss of wildlife breaks my heart. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers,” she said.

See also here. And here.

Tsunami kills thousands of albatrosses on Midway Island – Galapagos has minor damage: here.

Tsunami death toll for Laysan & Black-footed Albatrosses Midway Atoll increases to over 100,000 birds: here.

September 2011: Critically endangered Nihoa millerbirds are now living on the Hawaiian island of Laysan for the first time in nearly a century, thanks to a historic and collaborative conservation effort: here.

On the sizeable wings of albatrosses: here.

Fukushima update: cracked fuel rods threaten meltdown: here.

Tokyo Electric to Build US Nuclear Plants: The No BS Info on Japan’s Disastrous Nuclear Operators: here.

9 thoughts on “Oldest albatross survives Pacific tsunami

  1. Tsunami Killed Thousands Of Seabirds At Midway

    by The Associated Press

    In this photo taken Tuesday, march 19 [15?], 2011 and provided by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, birds are seen around flooded areas on Sand Island at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge near the Hawaiian Islands. Federal wildlife officials say thousands of seabirds were killed when tsunamis generated by last week’s massive earthquake off Japan flooded Midway, a remote atoll northwest of the main Hawaiian islands.

    This photo taken Monday, March 14, 2011 and provided by the US Fish and Wildlife Service shows some of the 70 water-logged albatross that were rescued from the lagoon at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge near the Hawaiian Islands. Federal wildlife officials say thousands of seabirds were killed when tsunamis generated by last weekís massive earthquake off Japan flooded Midway, a remote atoll northwest of the main Hawaiian islands.

    In this photo taken Saturday, March 12, 2011 and provided by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, a Laysan albatross chick that washed a shore is seen at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge near the Hawaiian Islands. Federal wildlife officials say thousands of seabirds were killed when tsunamis generated by last weekís massive earthquake off Japan flooded Midway, a remote atoll northwest o…

    HONOLULU March 15, 2011, 11:25 pm ET

    Thousands of seabirds were killed when the tsunami generated by last week’s massive earthquake off Japan flooded Midway, a remote atoll northwest of the main Hawaiian islands, a federal wildlife official said Tuesday.

    At least 1,000 adult and adolescent Laysan albatross were killed, along with thousands of chicks, said Barry W. Stieglitz, the project leader for the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuges.

    Many drowned or were buried under debris as waves reaching 5 feet high rolled over the low-lying atoll about four hours after the magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck Friday.

    The white-and-black feathered Laysan albatross is not in danger of becoming extinct. About 1 million of the birds live at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge about 1,300 miles northwest of Honolulu, making it the largest Laysan albatross colony in the world.

    But Stieglitz said the deaths could account for a significant share of Laysan albatross chicks hatched during the current season.

    “We may see just a slight decline in breeding birds next year, next year and the year after that,” he said. “There will be a gap in the breeding population when these birds that would have grown up this year, would have matured and started breeding for the first time.”

    The waves hit each of the three islands inside the atoll.

    Spit Island, about 15 acres, was completely overrun. The tsunami washed over 60 percent of Eastern Island, an islet of nearly 370 acres. Waves also covered 20 percent of Sand Island, the largest of the three at almost 1,200 acres.

    Biologists are less sure how many ground-nesting bonin petrels may have died, because these birds live in underground burrows and would have been buried in areas covered by waves. Stieglitz estimated the death toll would reach the thousands.

    Since the bonin petrel feed at night, however, Stieglitz said he was hopeful many were out foraging when the tsunami hit before dawn.

    Stieglitz said many wildlife populations rebound from natural disasters like this. But he said the tsunamis aren’t helpful to species facing threats like climate change, a loss of habitat, and invasive species.

    “When you start piling the natural catastrophe on top of invasive species invasions and all of these other things, it makes the population a lot less resilient and more susceptible to extinction,” he said. “It’s rather unfortunate timing, in our eyes. Not that there is ever a good time for this, but there are better times than worse times. And in this era, this is a worse time.”

    Like

  2. Pingback: Short-tailed albatross chick on Midway again | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: New seabird species discovered in Hawaii | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Canadian proposed pipeline threatens birds | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: Insufficient US albatross protection | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: World’s oldest bird has baby | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  7. Pingback: World’s oldest, banded wild bird back on Midway | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  8. Pingback: Albatross, petrel egg sizes, new research | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  9. Pingback: World’s oldest albatross lays egg | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.