The life span of an albatross

We’ve had a lot on here about birds lately, and I know that many of you come to Star each summer for the bird walks and views of sea birds you might not see anywhere else. This article from the Washington Post recently caught my attention with its surprise header of how old a Laysan albatross can get and still produce chicks.

An Albatross (Photo Courtesy of The Washington Post)

Researchers have been blown away by their observations of this bird.

“It blows us away that this is a 62-year-old bird and she keeps laying eggs and raising chicks,” said Bruce Peterjohn, chief of the Bird Banding Laboratory at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel.

And think it means good things about the health of the North Pacific.

“These birds are emblematic of the health of the ocean and the health of that ecosystem,” Peterjohn said. “It has to be healthy for them to live long.”

Great article, but has anyone ever seen one in the North Atlantic or on the Islands? I know  that Laysan albatross range only in the North Pacific, and that albatross – in general – are found only in the North Pacific and Southern Ocean. But did you know fossil records indicate they once did live in the North Atlantic too? And, occasionally, we are even visited by a wayward visitor.

Of course, those of us not planning to make it to the West Coast anytime soon will have to content ourselves with the many amazing species we see on Star each summer. And, of course, we can always appreciate Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous 1797 poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” which has fixed this bird in the popular imagination for centuries.

But, don’t worry as you read the poem. We won’t run out of water on Star now that we’re generating our own through reverse osmosis.

Having trouble with the above hyperlink? Find the article here:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/albatross-named-wisdom-astounds-scientists-by-giving-birth-at-age-62/2013/02/05/f46a68a6-6fc5-11e2-8b8d-e0b59a1b8e2a_story.html?hpid=z5

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