Update on the short-tailed albatross off the central California coast, with guidelines for low impact viewing


Gerry McChesney
 

Please see below and forward to anyone who might come into contact with the Short-tailed Albatross that has been lingering just off the California coast since at least June.  Thank you.

Gerry McChesney
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

From: Boldenow, Megan L <megan_boldenow@...>
Sent: Friday, September 17, 2021 12:26 PM
Subject: Update on the short-tailed albatross off the central California coast, with guidelines for low impact viewing
 

Dear All: 

As you are likely aware, a juvenile short-tailed albatross has been sighted off the coast of California this summer, most recently in Central California. This bird is exciting news for the region, as short-tailed albatross breed in Japan and are not regular visitors to California waters. The bird does have a metal ring on its leg; this is a band with a unique identifying number that will tell us more about the bird. We believe it likely fledged from a colony on Torishima Island, in Japan. 

This bird is also a federally listed endangered species, protected under federal law and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is monitoring the bird's status, with the help of local biologists, wildlife managers, and law enforcement personnel in state and federal agencies. Observers have noted this bird has apparent damage to its flight feathers, suggesting it may have experienced some sort of line entanglement in its recent past. The bird is also undergoing natural wing molt at this time, which makes its feathers look a bit rough. At this time, the bird exhibits what appears to be normal behavior for a young albatross; it is able to conduct a straight and balanced flight, is exhibiting normal preening behavior, and can find the typical food items it needs to stay healthy.

Species experts and managers agree that the best thing for this bird is to give it plenty of space to be a wild, young albatross.

Short-tailed albatross are high strung, sensitive birds that are not well acclimated to humans. These are heavy-bodied seabirds, and it is energetically taxing for them to run along the water to move away, or to lift off the water into flight. Giving the bird plenty of space by maintaining the required distance will ensure we do not add to stress the bird may already be experiencing during a sensitive time (molting of feathers). 

We are requesting the following help from the local community:

  • Should you observe the bird, please maintain a distance of 100 meters (330 feet) from the bird. This is an area roughly the length of a football field.
  • Do not approach the bird head on with your vessel. 
  • Do not flush the bird for any reason.
  • Do not chum or bait the bird to attract it, or otherwise feed the bird. Improper diet can negatively affect the bird's health. 
  • Ensure your fishing gear remains 100 meters (330 feet, or roughly a football field in length) from the bird.

This bird is a federally listed endangered species, and every bird matters. The Service is counting on the birding, fishing, maritime, and other communities to exercise good judgment and ensure your actions do not affect the bird's behavior.

In addition to protecting the bird, these recommendations also protect you from violating federal law. 

Short-tailed albatross are protected under the Endangered Species Act, which means it is illegal to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect this bird, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. Under the Act, harassment means an intentional or negligent act or omission which creates the likelihood of injury to wildlife by annoying it to such an extent as to significantly disrupt normal behavioral patterns which include, but are not limited to, breeding, feeding, or sheltering.

The Service thanks you in advance for your help keeping this truly special endangered seabird safe in the wild. Please share this email widely.

Megan Boldenow
Fish and Wildlife Biologist 

(she/her) 

 

Anchorage Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office  

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service   


I acknowledge that I live on the traditional lands of the Dena’ina Athabascans, and I work throughout the ancestral territory of the Indigenous Peoples of Alaska. I am grateful for their continued care and stewardship of this land.


Gerry McChesney
 

USFWS created a blog about the Short-tailed Albatross which includes a few photos of our recent CA bird, the viewing guidelines and a bit of info on the species.
Feel free to share widely.  Thank you!


On Fri, Sep 17, 2021 at 1:17 PM Gerry McChesney <gerry.mcchesney@...> wrote:
Please see below and forward to anyone who might come into contact with the Short-tailed Albatross that has been lingering just off the California coast since at least June.  Thank you.

Gerry McChesney
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

From: Boldenow, Megan L <megan_boldenow@...>
Sent: Friday, September 17, 2021 12:26 PM
Subject: Update on the short-tailed albatross off the central California coast, with guidelines for low impact viewing
 

Dear All: 

As you are likely aware, a juvenile short-tailed albatross has been sighted off the coast of California this summer, most recently in Central California. This bird is exciting news for the region, as short-tailed albatross breed in Japan and are not regular visitors to California waters. The bird does have a metal ring on its leg; this is a band with a unique identifying number that will tell us more about the bird. We believe it likely fledged from a colony on Torishima Island, in Japan. 

This bird is also a federally listed endangered species, protected under federal law and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is monitoring the bird's status, with the help of local biologists, wildlife managers, and law enforcement personnel in state and federal agencies. Observers have noted this bird has apparent damage to its flight feathers, suggesting it may have experienced some sort of line entanglement in its recent past. The bird is also undergoing natural wing molt at this time, which makes its feathers look a bit rough. At this time, the bird exhibits what appears to be normal behavior for a young albatross; it is able to conduct a straight and balanced flight, is exhibiting normal preening behavior, and can find the typical food items it needs to stay healthy.

Species experts and managers agree that the best thing for this bird is to give it plenty of space to be a wild, young albatross.

Short-tailed albatross are high strung, sensitive birds that are not well acclimated to humans. These are heavy-bodied seabirds, and it is energetically taxing for them to run along the water to move away, or to lift off the water into flight. Giving the bird plenty of space by maintaining the required distance will ensure we do not add to stress the bird may already be experiencing during a sensitive time (molting of feathers). 

We are requesting the following help from the local community:

  • Should you observe the bird, please maintain a distance of 100 meters (330 feet) from the bird. This is an area roughly the length of a football field.
  • Do not approach the bird head on with your vessel. 
  • Do not flush the bird for any reason.
  • Do not chum or bait the bird to attract it, or otherwise feed the bird. Improper diet can negatively affect the bird's health. 
  • Ensure your fishing gear remains 100 meters (330 feet, or roughly a football field in length) from the bird.

This bird is a federally listed endangered species, and every bird matters. The Service is counting on the birding, fishing, maritime, and other communities to exercise good judgment and ensure your actions do not affect the bird's behavior.

In addition to protecting the bird, these recommendations also protect you from violating federal law. 

Short-tailed albatross are protected under the Endangered Species Act, which means it is illegal to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect this bird, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. Under the Act, harassment means an intentional or negligent act or omission which creates the likelihood of injury to wildlife by annoying it to such an extent as to significantly disrupt normal behavioral patterns which include, but are not limited to, breeding, feeding, or sheltering.

The Service thanks you in advance for your help keeping this truly special endangered seabird safe in the wild. Please share this email widely.

Megan Boldenow
Fish and Wildlife Biologist 

(she/her) 

 

Anchorage Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office  

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service   


I acknowledge that I live on the traditional lands of the Dena’ina Athabascans, and I work throughout the ancestral territory of the Indigenous Peoples of Alaska. I am grateful for their continued care and stewardship of this land.