Wisdom, the Midway Albatross: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and Other Disasters for Over 60 Years

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By Michele Berger March 22, These chicks, buried in sand and vegetation by the tsunami, survived thanks to rescue efforts.

Wisdom, the Midway Albatross: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and Other Disasters for Over 60 Years

Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates. Protect Birds from Climate Change Two-thirds of North American bird species are at risk of extinction from climate change. Take Action. Get Audubon in Your Inbox Let us send you the latest in bird and conservation news.

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Find Audubon Near You Visit your local Audubon center, join a chapter, or help save birds with your state program. Explore the Network. Spread the word. More Videos Man-eating tigress sparks terror in India Dallas auction to kill rare black rhino Pandas frolic in freezing temperatures Nineteen of the 22 species of albatross face extinction, according to the University of Southern California.

Wisdom is a Laysan albatross, a species that usually inhabits the Northern Pacific, and is thought to be around 63 years old. She's exciting biologists because of her advanced years -- the average life span of a Laysan albatross is 12 to 40 years old. Scientists hope this is good news for the population.


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Fish and Wildlife Service. What makes Wisdom even more special is that she is still mating -- she has raised at least 35 chicks in her lifetime and has nested consecutively every year since , according to Bruce Peterjohn, chief of the North American Bird Banding Program at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.

Reflections on the Japanese Tsunami, Two Years Later

They even set up a camera and recorded her when she laid an egg in December. She delivered her youngest chick just a few weeks ago, which raises eyebrows because albatrosses are known to have low reproductive rates. If they live to see adulthood, they typically only breed every two years.

Wisdom, the Midway Albatross: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and Other Disasters for Over 60 Years

Researchers are still trying to determine how she is able to have babies and why she has lived longer than others. Biologists spotted Wisdom in at Midway Atoll , a national wildlife refuge north of the Hawaiian archipelago. But the red band they discovered attached to one of her feet amazed them.

It was soon revealed that Chandler Robbins, a former ornithologist at the Patuxent Center, placed the band on her in as a tracking device.

I didn't expect to ever find her again," said Robbins. Even in her golden years, Wisdom's thick coat of white feathers that trail off to gray and black appears untouched.


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Her astounded supporters periodically capture photographs of her where her eyes give off a mysterious glare that reveal a world of experience no one may ever know.