satellite view from PMNM
E komo mai; welcome! Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is surrounded by a lei of foam in the middle of the North Pacific; it's a beautiful, special place.

Not only are there albatross on Midway, but many other interesting kinds of wildlife, both on the land and in the sea. Please enjoy exploring FOAM, an educational blog actively done while on Midway from May through August 2010. Posts are added from off-Midway, as information becomes available. If you're interested in a particular topic, please use the search box or the alphabetical list of "labels" along the left side of the blog page.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Albatross have BIG Wings

I'd like to point out to our blog followers something they might not have noticed yet. All species of albatross have really long wings. I and my fellow Black-footed Albatross have wings that are about 7' long; wings on a Laysan Albatross are shorter by a few inches. We are sometimes called "nature's hang-gliders," since we use these long wings to soar for thousands of miles. Check out this BBC video:

Black-footed Albatross taking off from sea surface

There's an albatross skeleton on view in the Refuge Visitor Center. (Since the exhibit was put together with respect, and for public education, it's OK with me to have these bones of a member of my species on display.)

In this photo of the skeleton, Barb is holding the right wing; her thumb is on the humerus, the bone that goes from the shoulder down to the elbow. Right after that you'll see the radius and ulna are partially fused for strength during our long glides. Finally, the wing ends with the wrist and finger bones that are much reduced in all birds.

Pay attention to the ruler in the picture. When you eat a BBQ chicken wing, the meaty part is the humerus and it's about 2" long. Compare that to our humerus, which is about 10" long! Do a little math: how many times bigger is this albatross humerus compared to a chicken humerus?!


Anonymous said...

Love that web site "arkive" ! What a great idea.

Barb said...

It's a woooooooonderful website!!--lots of high-quality pictures & videos...and free! So nice that BBC puts these out for people to access.