Staring into the eyes of an albatross

Photo credit: Paul Berry

Yesterday I saw this photo of a Laysan albatross on Facebook posted by International Bird Rescue and I couldn’t stop staring at it. There’s something almost mystical about an albastross’ eyes; they look like black pools of wisdom that contain the secrets to the universe.

This stunning bird was released over the weekend by the International Bird Rescue (IBR) team. Apparently, a member of the public dropped the bird off at the San Pedro Animal Shelter and then one of the staff brought it to IBR. So we don’t know how this albatross ended up in San Pedro or how it ended up being carried away to a shelter by a human. But thankfully, after careful inspection by the IBR team, the bird was deemed healthy and given a thumbs up for release.

According to the IBR website, Layan albatrosses show up in Los Angeles occasionally. There is a breeding colony of these magnificent birds off Guadalupe Island, Mexico more than 200 miles south of Los Angeles, but most albatrosses breed on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Surprisingly, several albatrosses have been stowaways on ships and made their way to Los Angeles as ride-alongs, not fly-alongs.

It’s great that this bird is okay and hopefully on its way back to the rest of the flock right now. But unfortunately, many Laysan albatross adult birds and chicks have perished as victims from the plastic plague we’ve unleashed on our oceans. They sometimes mistake small bits of plastic for food, a tragic error that has been well documented by Algalita Marine Research Institute.

So let’s relish the victory of saving a Laysan albatross, but let’s also hope that this bird finds real food to eat, not plastic. For more great photos and details about this successful bird rescue, visit the International Bird Rescue website.

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