Devastating tsunami claims lives of humans and birds

Black-footed Albatross. © Chris West

by Gyorgy Szimuly on March 11, 2011 · 4 comments

in Birding News

A few days ago every major news source published the fantastic news about the world’s oldest bird which returned to its Midway home to raise chicks. Wisdom, the name of the more 60 years old Laysan Albatross, returned safe to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific Islands. Soon after the chicks of the colony cried for food.

Life could be so cruel sometimes. Today the world has been shocked by the powerful, 8.9 magnitude Japanese earthquake. If the devastating shake was not enough, 10 meters high tsunami hit the east coast of Japan. Much moderate but still deadly waves has also been running cross the Pacific Rim. Large number of people lost their lives in Japan and the living ones are praying for the missing ones.

Those who read these blog posts love birds too. The loss of hundreds of human lives cannot be overshadowed by the loss of wildlife caused by the tsunami. By the afternoon I read on one of the social medias about a quick report of the damages on the albatross colonies of Midway. Black-footed Albatross has the second largest breeding population on Midway Atoll and they had chicks already. Making the long story short here is the quote from Cynthia Vanderlip, the field camp manager of Kure Atoll Conservancy:

We are all fine. We stayed on the roof from 12pm until 4 am (March 11). Midway called and said that the wave had passed. Everyone climbed down off the roof went straight to bed, except me. I took a quick walk to see the damage at the beach and it is extensive. The wave washed about 400′ feet inland. The Black-foot colony at the pier is gone, chicks are everywhere. Thousand of ghost crabs are cleaning up the dead. The wave washed over the top of the pier and tore the window frames out. The ocean is chocolate brown.

I am thankful that our building is 700′ inland and 20′ above sea level. We were spared, but I fear for all the other folks in the Pacific. The loss of wildlife breaks my heart. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers

I am not sure I have to comment this. However, I promise I will keep our readers updated on the after effects of these sad news. Our thoughts are with those who have lost their loved family members but also with those who help rescuing wildlife to save what is still possible to save.

Update March 12: Both Welcome (the 60+ year old breeding female Laysan Albatross) and the first US nest of Short-tailed Albatross are OK.

Top photo: Black-footed Albatross by Chris West.

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