Saturday, March 26, 2011


If you're like me, it seems that people are just shoveling shit into fans all over the world, these days. And avidly looking for more fans to shovel into, and bigger shovels. Faster and faster.

I find the ongoing disaster in Japan mesmerizing; a horror it is hard to look away from.


So; I'm going to share something with you; which illustrates- well, something.

Life goes on, maybe. Life can be good, maybe. Something, in any case, to hang on to, in the radioactive winds of climate change.

Here's the albatross:

Photo: Pete Leary; US Fish & Wildlife Service.

And here's the story. You're looking, there, at the oldest documented wild bird in the world. She is "Wisdom", a Laysan albatross; and she is known to be at least 60 years old - biologists have been watching her that long.

That's her chick. At 60. That was sufficiently astonishing news for the world to get her into the New York Times. It's certainly exceptional for any wild bird to live so very long; but it was really unknown that birds of that age were still capable of laying eggs- and raising chicks.

But they are. Pretty doggone cool.

Wisdom, and her chick, live on Midway Atoll; a very remote islet in the Pacific. Millions of seabirds nest there; it's a wildlife refuge now, littered of course with the reminders of World War II. The average elevation of the atoll is - 4 feet above sea level. Four.

The tsunami following the quake in Japan swept over Midway, very thoroughly. It was a catastrophe; enormous. The estimates are over 100,000 albatross chicks were killed; and 2,000 adults.


But that photo? Is from AFTER the tsunami. That's Wisdom. And that's her chick.

You know; I think I can live a long time on that.

Thanks. To Wisdom; and to the Fish & Wildlife folks. It's a big deal.

More Wisdom pics, if you need them.


gaias daughter said...

Way to go, Wisdom! From one sixty-hum-de-hum to another . . . :-)

Crunchy Chicken said...

Thanks. That gave me chills.

And I haven't forgotten about our impending storming of the castle... we just need to figure out when.

Aimee said...

I read about this. And I was thoroughly heartened. Like you, I'm not sure why... many more birds died... many people died, much has been horribly altered for the worse. Yet: one bright spirit survives. One bird goes on! Hooray? Okay, hooray!

Greenpa said...

Gaia's; - as Red Green puts it, "hey, we're all in this together."

Crunch- castle storming wil be a hoot; not likely to let you forget.

Aimee - one bright spirit- very nice. :-)

Barb-Central Texas said...

I had not seen that story before. Thanks for sharing it.

Lauren said...

Thanks for posting this. Hadn't heard of Wisdom before. Glad she and her chick survived the tsunami. Hope she has many more good years!

etbnc said...

Sometimes Wisdom prevails.

Thanks for this encouraging news.

natalie said...

Thanks for sharing this Greenpa, my heart is wonderfully lighter knowing about Wisdom. We're living in such heavy times.

Anonymous said...

tangentially related, so i thought some might appreciate this:
"how to cuddle with an elephant seal"


Greenpa said...

sgl - the elephant seal video is very cool- but- I almost didn't put it up. Because what the lady was doing is SUCH a bad idea. That's a honking big 600 lb CARNIVORE she's cuddling; they eat big fish, squid- penguins- tourist faces... maybe...

:-) At the same time I was envying her the experience, and realizing, in her shoes, I might very well have been stupid enough to do exactly as she did. But boy; if I caught my kid doing that- all hell would break loose.

So, anyway. Cool. Watch. Enjoy, and please, don't anybody here ever be that stupid.

CFR said...

You did say "Wisdom, and her chick, live on Midway Atoll," didn't you?

I thought so.


Greenpa said...

CFR - yeah; I know. That part is not happy. Thing is; at this point, I'm not sure there's anywhere in the ocean that's a lot different. There's plastic on every beach I've been to in the last 10 years; tons of it. :-)

JeopardyGeorge said...

Midway Atoll is not islet. There are 3 islands in the lagoon formed by the barrier reef: Sand Island is about 1200 acres, Eastern Island is about 334 acres, and tiny Spit Island is 6 acres.

Unknown said...

you sound like a wise old bird. Thanks for the positivity.

Greenpa said...

Jeopardy - you're entirely correct, and I was sloppy. I did know! The thing is; the "land" bits of the atoll might all qualify as islets, yes? Even 1200 acres is a pretty small spit in the Pacific; and they're all the low coral structures associated with atolls- not much of anywhere to go in a tsunami. I've known that forever- and wasn't thinking that others wouldn't.

Greenpa said...

Actually; Jeopardy- if you'd clicked on the provided link to Midway Atoll...... it's all there..... :-)