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, March 19, 2011

Update on Midway Atoll's Tsunami

The tsunami washed over the red-shaded areas; USFWS graphic.
Have you heard the unhappy news?  According to the USFWS's press release on Friday, March 18, "Seabird Losses at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge Greatly Exceed Early Estimates."  (When you get to the link, if it doesn't show this title, you may have to put the title into the website's "Headline" box and do a search.)  Briefly, the article reports this news about albatross:
  •  "...more than 110,000 Laysan and black-footed albatross chicks – about 22 percent of this year’s albatross production..." have been lost this year as a result of winter storms followed by the tsunami
  • "At least 2000 adults were also killed."
  • "Wisdom, the 60-year-old albatross that recently hatched a chick, was initially reported as surviving the event because her nest site was not overwashed, but biologists have not been able to confirm her survival."
  • Only 4 albatross chicks have been found on the Atoll's smallest island, Spit.  Before the winter storms and tsunami, there had been 1520 albatross nests.
  • Although the Short-tailed Albatross has survived all winter storms and the tsunami, the "chick's parents...have not been seen since the tsunami.  Since the chick is incapable of fending for itself, the Service will carefully consider whether hand-rearing this bird is appropriate if it is determined that it is not being fed by its parents."
Read the press release for more information about some of Midway's other birds.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), joins the USFWS and the state of Hawai`i in managing the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, which includes Midway and all of the NW Hawaiian Islands.  It will be NOAA's job in the months ahead to survey the tsunami's effect on the Hawaiian Monk Seal, or `Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua, and the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, or Honu.

There's nothing we can do to prevent tsunamis and other natural disasters.  Even with loss of many individual birds, albatross species have survived these events before, and we expect them to survive this one, too.  

But what we can do is work to prevent human disasters on wildlife.  For example, we can be more careful about keeping plastic out of the ocean, so that albatross don't die from swallowing it by mistake.  Fishing boats can catch fish with gear that doesn't accidentally catch albatross.   

Let's try harder to protect albatross and our Planet Earth!

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