Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Some People Do Weird Things To Each Other

As you may have noticed, the titles to these blogs usually have nothing to do with the content.....much like Vice Magazine's supposed reviews of pornos usually end up talking about how much gym class sucked back in middle school, something like that. There is no real purpose to this.....although a boring title may, in fact, lull the reader into a sense of complacency. They will then be absolutely shocked to learn that most of the nations best and brightest birders are, in fact, depraved drug addicts. For today, the quote in the title rings completely true, but has no bearing on anything relevant.

Albatross, although some of the longest-living species on the planet, have it rough. As previously mentioned, they have the whole plastic problem to deal with. I am guessing that if I was constantly ingesting and throwing up plastic, it is quite possible my lifespan would be shortened. Then there is the longline fishery, which drowns untold numbers of albatross (5 figures? Over 100,000?) every year, when birds get hooked on the baited lines. Fortunately, some smart, motivated people are helping with this problem, and our North Pacific species (Laysan, Black-footed and Short-tailed) don't have it nearly as bad as they used to......it is relatively cheap and easy to modify these lines so they don't kill seabirds. South of the equator is a different story, however.

Finally, there is the fact that albatross simply are not graceful fliers when flying over land. They are not adapted to areas that have trees (they spend much of their lives over the open ocean), and so here on Midway Ive seen far too many birds get stuck, impaled, or suffocated in the nonnative Ironwood trees that cover much of Sand Island (and occasionally in the native vegetation as well). It is very, very depressing to see birds die in this manner, which is probably slowly and painfully. What is worse is that if these birds have eggs or chicks, then it is quite likely that they will not survive as well. People generally fare better having only one parent (arguably) than albatross.

So when you go to sleep tonight, remember that somewhere, somehow, beautiful animals are dying as a result of human greed, stupidity and ignorance. But that is nothing new. Sweet dreams!

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