An inspiring flyer, the Laysan Albatross can glide over the open oceans for hours without a single flap. At home with the wind and waves, their long wings carry them hundreds of miles in a day's time.
This species takes a long time to mature, only beginning to breed at eight or nine years old. It's also very long-lived. At last count, the world's oldest Laysan Albatross had reached the age of 63!
Named for the Laysan breeding colony in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, this albatross is the second most common seabird in that area. (Sooty Terns are the most numerous.)
Although this bird is still fairly common, population declines have led to its inclusion on the 2014 Watch List.
Problems abound for Laysan Albatross and other seabirds, with fisheries posing one of the biggest threats. Thousands of adult birds are snagged by longlines while feeding at sea.
Longlines attract the birds to bait intended for fish, where they become hooked and drown.
Then there's verbesina, an invasive plant that grows so quickly it covers nests and prevents parent birds from reaching their young to feed them.
Plastic debris, fed by the parents to the chicks in place of grit, eventually chokes them … introduced predators including rats, mongoose, and dogs prey on breeding colonies in the main Hawaiian Islands and kill even adult birds. … and avian pox spread by introduced mosquitoes: All of these take a toll.
Seabirds are the world's most threatened group of birds, with nearly half declining in population. Our Seabirds Program is working with partners on several fronts.
We support development of fishing techniques that reduce bycatch and push the U.S. Congress to approve funding to remove lead paint and invasive plants on Midway Island, where half of the population of Laysan Albatross breeds.
We also continue to urge the United States to sign onto the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses & Petrels (ACAP), which currently includes 13 signatories from France to Uruguay. ACAP works to conserve albatrosses and petrels by coordinating international activities that benefit these birds.