Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture

black-footed albatross

Black-footed albatross
(Phoebastria nigripes)

Habitat
Open ocean, in areas with steady winds.

Range
The most commonly sighted albatross off the Pacific Coast, it ranges well offshore from the Bering Sea and Aleutians to Baja, California. Breeding adults stay closer to the Hawaiian Islands while raising their chicks.

Eats
An omnivore, but eats mostly squid, flying fish roe, crustaceans and fish; also known to scavenge from ships.

Feeds
Snatches squid and fish from the surface of the water or in shallow dives with long, hooked bill. Flying-fish eggs are the main diet item followed by squid and crustaceans.

Moves
Glides along wind currents on stiff, slender wings spanning up to seven feet. Can soar for long periods of time even in heavy winds, covering large distances. Clumsy takeoffs and landings on nesting islands earned it the nickname, "gooney bird."

Threats
Can be hooked on long lines, ensnared and drowned in drift-nets, and entangled in cables. Restricted breeding areas make the population susceptible to catastrophic events at those locations. Some parents mistakenly feed chicks indigestible marine plastics.

Reproduction
Comes to land only to nest; breeds on islands in the Northwest Hawaiian chain. Breeding season (eggs and chick rearing) from November to July. Monogamous for life, only one chick every one to two years. Long-lived; up to 40 years. The oldest banded bird on record is 28 years old (recorded alive in 1990).

Presence in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary
Non-breeding birds feed well off-shore in Sanctuary waters (most numerous June - August). Breeding birds are also possible to see in the sanctuary.

Notes
These seabirds are considered good luck by sailors, and said to embody the spirits of lost sailors. The saying, "to wear an albatross around one's neck," comes from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's epic poem, Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the tale of the mariner who killed an albatross, was forced to wear the dead bird around his neck in penitence, and ultimately experienced redemption.



Contact for page content: Liam Antrim
Photo of peach coral
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