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Sunday, 31 August 2014

A ringed Albatross...result!

Following on from the earlier post I was delighted to receive a 'Certificate of Appreciation' from the US Geological Survey and Canadian Wildlife Service.  It gave the original capture and ringing details of the bird concerned and proved most interesting reading.
Black-footed Albatross
The photo above was the original image which I just happened to notice that it appeared to be ringed or 'banded' as the Americans choose to call it.  I cropped the image to that of the next photo and posted the information on an American banding website.
Black-footed Albatross - cropped image
The certificate received gave details of where the albatross was originally captured.

The location stated prompted me to look into it further.  Whale-Skate Island is one or two islands among the FFS which stands for the French Frigate Shoals some 500+ miles north-west of Honolulu, Hawaii, and were said to be up to 15 acres.
2700 miles...as the albatross flies..or doesn't...

Looking for further information on the island(s) it would seem that it no longer exists!  An article in May 2004 in the Honolulu Post quoting the ringer of my bird saying "That island in the course of 20 years has completely disappeared" with rising sea levels, said Beth Flint, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife biologist for the Pacific Remote Island Refuges. "It washed away."

Almost all (97.5%) of the Black-footed Albatrosses breed on the long chain of islands north-west of Hawaii and nearly 25% on the French Frigate Shoals alone.  The distance given as a straight line between the ringing site and where I photographed the bird is around 2700 miles as the albatross flies.  However, consideration should be given to the fact that after fledging and initially roaming the seas for the first three years of life before returning to their birth area to prepare for breeding themselves.  Following successful breeding when about seven years old the birds disperse to the eastern Pacific anywhere from Alaska down to California before returning to breed the following year.  Adults must cover many thousands of miles each year and over the lifetime must be into the hundreds of thousands.

As with many species the world population of over 100,000 is affected by pressure on breeding sites although most are in protected areas but like the birth-site are prone to changes in sea-level, and thousands are killed each year by long-line fishing practices and the numbers have halved in over 50 years.  

I will finish with a few more photos of these magnificent birds, being only feet away at times was a magical experience.


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