Old Mother Albatross

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Many animal species are known for the intense labors they undergo for the sake of their offspring. Sea turtles travel for thousands miles to lay their eggs on the same beaches where they hatched. Male Emperor Penguins spend two months without food while incubating their eggs in the frigid Antarctic winter.  A recent discovery adds another bird--the albatross--to the ranks of these determined parents. 

The oldest known bird in the Northern Hemisphere is an albatross--a large seabird known for their massive wingspan (some can be up to 11 feet wide!). Recently, scientists made a surprising discovery about this ancient bird, appropriately named Wisdom: At the age of 60, rather than considering retirement, she is the proud mother of a new baby albatross!

Albatross lay only one egg a year, but scientists estimate that Wisdom has already raised at least 30 chicks in her lifetime. Many take a year off between parenting, and most albatross mate for life. Below, Wisdom is pictured with her newest baby. 

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Equally astounding is the distance Wisdom has likely traveled in her lifetime. Adult albatross average 50,000 miles per year, or two to three million miles over the 60 years since Wisdom was first banded--the equivalent of four to six trips from Earth to the moon and back again!

During the breeding season, albatross frequently make stops on islands and coasts, including Midway Atoll where Wisdom hatched her new chick. But at other times, they spent all their time on the open sea, even sleeping while in flight over the ocean!

Sadly, these amazing creatures are severely threatened by commercial fishing boats, which often hook them by mistake, and by the poisonous garbage and pollution in the oceans.

As we post this, we are sending our thoughts out to all those impacted by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  Seacology has an affiliate, Seacology Japan, in the country, as well as several projects in and around the region. We will provide updates on how Seacology projects may have been affected as we receive them. 

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This page contains a single entry by Carynne McIver published on March 11, 2011 3:08 PM.

Meet an Island Species: The Micronesian Megapode was the previous entry in this blog.

Update on Japan Disaster is the next entry in this blog.

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