7 Ways You Can Help Albatrosses

September 26, 2014
Laysan Albatross, Kauai, Hawaii. Photo by Benjamin M. Clock.
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Each time in the last century that people have extended a helping hand to albatrosses, they’ve met us halfway. Here are a few ways you can help these birds.

Ask for sustainable seafood. The Marine Stewardship Council and Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list (also an app) tell you which seafood is caught sustainably, including information on fishery management and bycatch-free (seabird-safe) fishing methods.

Recycle plastic. Discarded plastic does not biodegrade and winds up in the ocean, where it accumulates toxins and disrupts food chains. Single-use plastic bags are another major source of plastic pollution, but with public support are beginning to be banned in some U.S. cities. The Surfrider Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics campaign has more practical suggestions.

Support the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels. This landmark effort coordinates much-needed international collaborations to conserve 30 seabird species. The ACAP website offers species-specific population estimates, resources on seabird bycatch, and news. The United States is not yet a signatory to the agreement, although U.S. biologists participate in working groups.

Read a children’s book. No, really—with their long lives, extended chick care, and lasting pair bonds, albatrosses make great characters in children’s stories. If you’re looking for a good kid’s book with a conservation message, the ACAP website keeps a handy reference list.

Visit a nesting colony. You can see Laysan Albatrosses and their big, downy chicks at Kaena Point, Oahu, or Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai, from November to July, or visit the Cornell Lab’s streaming Laysan Albatross Bird Cam.

See them at sea. Pelagic birding trips from the West Coast offer great looks at Black-footed and sometimes Laysan albatrosses on the wing. Two excellent operators in the San Francisco Bay Area are Debi Shearwater and Alvaro Jaramillo. In Monterey Bay, you can often see albatrosses even on short whale-watching trips.

Buy and protect land on Kauai. The Kauai Albatross Network joins with local landowners to protect existing albatross colonies from threats including free-roaming dogs. The network offers pro bono services for habitat landowners, and can provide specific suggestions for anyone interested in protecting land suitable for nesting colonies.

For more read the full Laysan Albatross conservation article from Living Bird magazine.

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