Wednesday April 12, 2017
Aloha noni friends and family! I thought you may like to learn a little more about the albatross that make their yearly trip to nest at the farm. I hope this blog will not only enlighten but enhance your appreciation for these beautiful creatures.
The albatross are large seabirds who mostly inhabit the Southern and North Pacific Ocean. They are among the largest of the flying birds with the great albatross having the largest wingspan reaching up to 12 feet.
Albatrosses have one of the longest life spans in the wild. In fact, the oldest recorded being a Laysan albatross named Wisdom. Wisdom was first banded in 1956 by Chandler Robbins as a mature adult. Her most recent activity was recorded in February 2017, making her at least 66 years old! She is not only the oldest living recorded albatross but also the oldest wild banded bird in the world.
Albatrosses reach maturity slowly sometimes taking 10 years to reach breeding age. They are most famous for their synchronized 'dance' performances including various actions such as preening, pointing, calling, bill clacking, and staring to attract a mate. Bonds between males and females can take years to develop and will last for the life of the breeding pair. Although the albatross will mate for life, most of the original ‘dance’ that brought a breeding pair together will never be used again.
Albatrosses are also colonial and prefer to nest in groups on remote oceanic islands. Often, researchers will see several species nesting together. A breeding season can span over a year from start to finish producing only a single egg in each breeding attempt.
Albatrosses combine their soaring techniques with predictable weather systems. For example, the albatross in the Southern Hemisphere will fly north from their colonies taking a clockwise route, whereas those flying south will take a counterclockwise route. This allows them to expend little energy during their long-distance travels making them dependent on the wind and waves for traveling.
Did you know? Most species of albatross lack the muscles to undertake sustained long-term flapping? Upon taking off, albatrosses need a running start to allow enough air to move under the wing to provide lift. When faced with calm seas, they are forced to rest on the ocean's surface until the wind picks up again.
Of the 22 species of albatross recognized by the IUCN, all are listed at some level of concern:
- 3 species are Critically Endangered
- 5 species are Endangered
- 7 species are Near Threatened
- 7 species are Vulnerable
The main reason the albatross are threatened is due to invasive species being introduced in their natural habitat. Rats, snakes and feral cats (to name a few) attack eggs, chicks and nesting adults. Other reasons are overfishing depleting their food supply and by longline fishing. Longline fisheries pose the greatest threat as feeding albatross get tangled and drown before they can be rescued.
What can we do to help:
At Hawaiian Organic Noni we are doing our part to help ensure the survival of this beautiful bird. We do this by providing safe and quiet nesting grounds clear of debris and dangerous predators year after year. Even though we 'adopt' a chick to follow each year, we respect the fact that this bird is a wild animal and keep a safe distance careful not to disturb the parents. We never feed them as an attempt to tame them. This poses a danger for them to think that all humans are safe. We hope you enjoyed this blog and the chicks we have followed year after year. The albatross is truly an amazing creature to be admired and respected.