A Rare Pacific Ocean Species Expands its Range

by Helen Zhang, age 14

For years biologists believed that the only remaining colonies of short-tailed albatross were found on two remote Japanese islands. Recently, they discovered that they were wrong. The short-tailed albatross with its bright pink bill, white body, and golden-colored crown and nape is a rare and threatened bird.

Years ago this bird inhabited many islands in the Pacific Ocean. In the late 19th century, over-hunting of the albatross for its feathers led to a huge drop in population. Today there are only about 3,000 of these birds left.

In 1939, albatross breeding grounds in Torishima, Japan were badly damaged in a volcanic eruption. The number of nesting pairs remaining dropped to about ten. The volcano is still active and might erupt again. If that happens its possible this rare species could be decimated.

Recently however, two pair of this endangered and beautiful bird have been discovered in Hawaii in two wildlife refuges, Kure Atoll and Midway Atoll.

These newly discovered birds together possess three eggs. It is still unclear if these eggs are fertilized, however, this new finding brings hope that the short-tailed albatross might soon start a comeback beyond Japan.

[Source: The New York Times]