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.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Some Albatross Don't Make It

The last FOAM post reported that Laysan Albatross chicks fledge (grow up) on Midway Atoll and then fly away, over the North Pacific Ocean. 

And that's a nice image: adult black-and-white Laysan Albatross soaring over the deep blue ocean, gazing off into the distance with their shadowed eyes....

But some albatross don't make it.  Some don't get beyond the Atoll's lagoon; they die and wash up on shore.

I began to wonder what becomes of these dead albatross.  I noticed the bodies seemed to disappear into the sand.  So I set up an observation activity for myself.  On July 3 I took the albatross from the shoreline that's pictured above and placed it up the beach, far from the waves.  Then I marked the area with 4 objects that you see in the picture on the left.  Starting top left and going clockwise, the objects are:
---small, blue float
---large, round, black float
---plastic water bottle
---broken float wrapped with rope mesh
And then I took a picture every few days.  Here are the pictures in time order:
July 7
July 6

July 9
July 8

July 12
July 11

July 18
July 15
July 20
Notice all the crab holes in the right-hand column, 3rd picture down, the July 12th snapshot.  I think the beach crabs have been eating the albatross, and as the body gets smaller and smaller, it takes up less space, and sinks into the sand!  Today is July 24th.  I'm going to dig up the area and see what's left.  Maybe I'll find albatross bones and feathers that have been cleaned by crabs?!  Stay tuned for the next post.

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