A Layson albatross named Wisdom has hatched her 40th chick according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The monogamous, yet sexual active “Wisdom” is believed to be at least 65-years-old.
Albatrosses do it differently
The albatross Wisdom is the oldest banded wild bird, and one of about a million that nest and raise their families at the Midway Atoll Refuge which is part of the United State’s largest conservation area, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Honolulu.
(Apologies, but ValueWalk’s hosting doesn’t allow for the use of Hawaiian accent marks)
Albatrosses mate for life, or at least until death or disappearance separates the two. Wisdom’s mate is named “Gooo” a play on the fact that his tag number is “6000.” In addition to mating for life, male albatrosses are active participants in the hatching and raising of new chicks. Surprisingly, Ted Cruz hasn’t caught on to this in his quest for the Republican party nomination and his preaching of traditional family values. (My guess is that Wisdom and Gooo aren’t attending enough Evangelical prayer groups for the Senator from Texas.)
US Fish and Wildlife Service workers have named this newest chick Baby Kukini, which is Hawaiian for “messenger” when it was seen breaking out of its shell on February 1st. Dad (Gooo) had been on hatching duty for over two weeks while we awaited Wisdom’s return from a food gathering foray. That collected food of, presumably, fish eggs, smaller fish, and squid will be regurgitated by Wisdom to feed Baby Kukini.
Once Wisdom returned and secured the chick beneath her, Gooo said his goodbyes and was off to collect the food necessary to feed his family. (Again, where you at Sen. Cruz?)
“As soon as Kukini was secure under Wisdom, Wisdom’s mate quickly marched the length of a football field towards a path through the dunes and took flight. We expect him to be back within a week or less because newly hatched albatross chicks require a consistent supply of fresh seafood,”wrote the staff at Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in a Facebook post.
(Why he walked the first 100 yards is a mystery to me)
Laysan albatross Wisdom’s history on the atoll
Laysan albatrosses, breed on the islands between November and July where they meet their partners each year. The rest of the year they’re simply cruising the skies northwestern and northeastern range of the Pacific Ocean looking to swoop down and grab some seafood from the water’s surface. They are remarkable in flight and can go hours if not days showing off their soaring without flapping their wings. While the albatross does occasionally sleep on the water, there ability to sleep in the air makes them less vulnerable to predators (whales and sharks) and they are happy to catch a few “Zs” while flying.
Wisdom’s true age is a bit of a mystery, but conservationists and researchers are certain she is no less than 65-years-old. Wisdom was banded in 1956 on the Midway Atoll by Dr. Chandler Robbins, who is now retired at 97 years young. Albatrosses don’t breed until the age of five, the age that Robbins assessed her to be when he banded her.
Since the time of her banding, Wisdom has been a fixture on the Midway Atoll raising an estimated 40 chicks, with nearly one a year since 2006 according to the staff of Papah?naumoku?kea. Somewhat surprisingly, Wisdom doesn’t do any consulting work for NASA as she’s likely flown over 3 million miles in her lifetime, a number that would take her to the moon and back about six times.
In addition to potentially being caught napping by sharks and whales, the albatross needs to be wary of fishing nets, ocean debris, and invasive species in breeding areas. Thankfully, for Wisdom, Theodore Roosevelt designated her home and the northwestern Hawaiian Islands the first federally protected seabird sanctuary in the world in 1909 after he was inspired by the albatross.
“From a scientific perspective, albatrosses are a critical indicator species for the world’s oceans that sustain millions of human beings as well,” he said.