Wisdom: We All Have A Lot to Learn
This is Wisdom. She is a 65-year old albatross. If you do some quick math, think about how old you are, how old your parents are, and how old your grandparents are. Wisdom is probably close in age to your grandparents, which makes her big news pretty awesome. She just became a mom again!
Wildlife experts think that she has probably hatched more than 40 chicks in her lifetime. They know that she has raised 8 chicks since 2006. So, it's pretty cool that Wisdom has a new baby chick. Scientists used to think that birds like Wisdom stopped laying and hatching eggs much earlier, but Wisdom continues to teach them about reproduction in albatrosses. Say hello to Kūkini, Wisdom's latest chick! (Kūkini means Messenger in Hawaiian). Here, you can see a video of Wisdom feeding Kūkini. You can also hear the noise of other chicks and adult albatrosses. This noise is how the Midway Atoll got its Hawaiian name, Pihemanu, which means a loud din of birds!
Albatrosses spend much of their life at sea until they are ready to mate and hatch eggs. Scientists think that Wisdom has flown more than 3 million miles in her life time. That's a lot of miles! Because of its large, powerful wings, an albatross can glide for long distances without needing to land.
Wisdom's news is a big deal because scientists have been observing her to learn more about the ocean and how it has changed because of human impact on the natural world. Scientists are specifically studying how many albatrosses accidentally end up eating plastic marine debris like bottle caps, fishing line, and small bits of plastic in the ocean, which they mistake for fish and squid. Plastic in the ocean is a big worry because it means our waters aren't healthy for the marine life that live there or for humans.
Wisdom's land home is on the Midway Atoll near Hawaii. It's a protected marine sanctuary for millions of birds. It's also the largest population of albatrosses in the world. In addition to the Albatross, you can find Bonin petrels, Laysan ducks, Hawaiian monk seals, green sea turtles and spinner dolphins near Midway.
There are 22 different species of Albatross. Wisdom is a Laysan Albatross.
Cool Laysan Albatross Facts:
- Their wing spans can be up to 6 feet long! (And the Wandering Albatross, another Albatross species can have a wingspan of up to 11 feet long!!!)
- They eat squid, fish, and sometimes garbage and ocean debris
- They live permanently at sea until they are ready to breed (at around 8-9 years of age)
- Both sexes of albatross care for the egg while it is getting ready to hatch ( a process called incubation)
- Scientists believe that albatrosses can live up to 60 years of age, but Wisdom is already 65!
- Albatrosses drink salt water!
So, what do you think we can learn from Wisdom about the ocean? About the life of an albatross? About being a mom? Scientists are asking questions just like these and more!