70-year-old albatross named Wisdom rears her 40th youngster!

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World’s oldest-known wild bird hatches another new chick: 70-year-old albatross named Wisdom rears her 40th youngster
The septuagenarian seabird hatched an egg again on Midway Atoll in the Pacific
Wisdom was first tagged by researchers back in 1956, when she was around five
She has been raising chicks with her current mate, ‘Akeakamai’, since 2010
Laysan albatrosses have a range that extends all across the north Pacific ocean

The world’s oldest-known wild bird, a 70-year-old Laysan albatross called ‘Wisdom’, has hatched another chick — making this at least the 40th youngster she has reared.

The septuagenarian seabird hatched and egg again last month on the breeding habitat of Midway Atoll, a tiny island in the Pacific, some 1,300 miles from Hawaii.

Wisdom was first given an identification band back in 1956 at which time she was estimated to be around five, the age at which albatross become sexually mature.

She has been raising chicks with her current mate — a male called ‘Akeakamai’ — since 2010, experts from the US Fish and Wildlife Service have said.

Laysan albatrosses — named for one of the main islands on which they breed — are relatively small gull-like albatrosses that can be found in the north Pacific.

They spend nine-tenths of their life out at sea, meaning that researchers can only study them when they return to their breeding grounds around the Hawaiian islands.

Her return not only inspires bird lovers everywhere, but helps us better understand how we can protect these graceful seabirds and the habitat they need to survive into the future,’ a US Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson told the Independent.

First scientifically described in 1893 by the British zoologist and banker Lionel Walter Rothschild, Laysan albatrosses are the second-most common seabird in the Hawaiian Islands, with an estimated population of some 2.5 million birds.

Until the 21st century, it was thought that the seabirds typically lived for around 40 years, until Wisdom proved this assumption false.

Wisdom’s longevity was first noted in 2002, when the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Chandler Robbins spotted that the bird’s identification ring had become damaged and was in need of replacement.

On closer inspection of the tag, however, the biologist realised that the tag had been placed on the albatross 46 years previously, and, moreover, by his younger self.

The fact that Wisdom has reached such an age is impressive, experts have said, given the threats Laysan albatrosses presently face, including fearsome weather conditions, predation from sharks, invasive mice and increasing plastic pollution.

The seabirds typically only lay one egg each year, making the successful rearing of each chick essential to the continuation of the species.

‘Wisdom has a long term mate named Akeakamai. They have been together since at least 2010, and potentially much longer. However it is likely that Wisdom has had more than one partner during her life,’ the US Fish and Wildlife Service said.

‘Albatross pair bonds are incredibly important for raising young. The relationship takes years to form, and can last for decades.

‘To find a mate, juvenile albatrosses do what humans have been doing for thousands of years, they have dance parties.’

Each winter, they explained, groups of young albatross gather on Midway to practice courtship dances, and, after a couple of years learning their elaborate moves, eventually find a mate.

‘They are looking for just that special bird to dip, bow, and preen with, and once a pair bond forms they stay bonded for life. It will take a pair bond another three or four years before they can successfully hatch their first chick,’ they added.

‘The incredible about of time and work necessary for albatrosses to survive to adulthood, find a mate, and become a successful parent means that each adult pair bond is incredibly important to the overall survival of the colony.’

Albatross is a documentary released in April 2018 and created by American photographer and filmmaker Chris Jordan on Midway Island in the North Pacific ocean.

It began in 2008 as a collaboration with activist and photographer Manuel Maqueda.

They learned of an environmental tragedy taking place on the tiny atoll, which they first visited in September 2009.

Their team photographed and filmed thousands of young albatrosses that lay dead on the ground, their stomachs filled with plastic.

They returned the island a total of eight times over eight years, capturing more than 400 hours of footage.

In the process, they documented the devastation they encountered.

Writing on the film’s website, they said ‘The experience was devastating, not only for what it meant for the suffering of the birds, but also for what it reflected back to us about the destructive power of our culture of mass consumption, and humanity’s damaged relationship with the living world.

‘We experienced the birds’ beauty, grace, and sentience more and more vividly with each trip.

‘We learned to attune ourselves to their body language, so that we could film them up close without causing them anxiety. They allowed us to witness their most tender moments at astonishingly close range.

‘The poetry of the albatross revealed itself layer by layer, as my team and I were gifted with intimate footage of every stage of their cycles of life, death, and birth.’


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