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.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Short-tailed Albatross Nest on Midway for the First Time!

 photo of female STAL on nest by USFWS volunteer Sarah Gutowsky, Midway, 12/1/10
That's right!  This is the very first time a pair of this endangered albatross has made a nest on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge!  To see volunteer Joanna's video of what a Short-tailed Albatross looks like, visit FOAM's Nov. 14 post, "Golden Gooney seen on Midway Atoll!"

As acting Refuge Manager John Klavitter writes, "On Nov. 16, refuge staff observed an adult short-tailed albatross incubating a freshly laid egg on Eastern Island...."  [Look at the aerial view of Midway Atoll at the top of this page; Eastern is the triangle-shaped island on the southeast side of the Atoll.]  "Since then, the refuge staff members have observed the male and female trading off incubation duties."

During modern history, Short-tailed Albatross (STAL) have been found only in territory belonging to Japan; their main nesting grounds are on Torishima Island.  In fact, Midway's "Mr. and Mrs. STAL,"(if we can call them that!) were hatched on the Japanese island; Mr. in 1987, and the younger Mrs. just seven years ago in 2003.   But it's a good thing these adult birds have come to nest on Midway.  As the picture below shows, their home island is an active volcano!  (On the map, Midway Atoll is one of the small dots in the Hawaiian Island chain; it's probably a dot near the right-hand edge of the photo.)

map, by Hiroshi Hasegawa, located on the Wake Forest University Albatross Project website

Isn't it wonderful that this pair of Short-tailed Albatross has chosen to nest on Midway, where there's no volcano?  Wouldn't it be terrific if their egg hatches, and they return in the future to lay more eggs?  And wouldn't it be REALLY GREAT if this pair were joined by more STAL and they establish a colony in the Refuge?!