al ba tross \ ‘albetros\ n : any of a number of large web-footed seabirds that are related to the petrels, that form a family (Diomedeidae) of the order Procellariiformes, and that include the largest of seabirds, being capable of long-continued flight and often appearing at great distances from land chiefly over southern seas—see BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS, LAYSAN ALBATROSS, SOOTY ALBATROSS, WANDERING ALBATROSS
An albatross is the grandest living flying machine on Earth.
That’s what ocean conservationist and albatross biographer Carl Safina says, at least, but I’d like to modify that statement. I prefer: An albatross is the grandest living flying machine in the world. Because albatross spend the vast majority of their time at sea, not on earth. And not on the water, specifically, but in the air.
When a Laysan albatross chick takes to the air for the very first time, it does not touch land again for three to five years. The only reason they return to land is to breed, which they do not start doing until they are are seven to 10 years old. The oldest known wild bird in the world is a Laysan albatross named Wisdom. She is 64 years old, and is incubating an egg at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge as I write this.
From wingtip to wingtip, Laysan albatross measure six-and-a-half feet. They can glide for hundreds of miles and go days without a single flap of their wings. Our girl Wisdom has probably logged 47,360,000 air miles in her life to date.
Sub-fossil bones indicate Laysan albatross beat the first Polynesians to the main Hawaiian Islands and are said to be the kinolau, earthly form of Lono, god of agriculture, rain, fertility and peace. Yes, peace.
Laysan albatross deserve to be canonized for their miraculous fidelity, loyalty, and patience.
They are devoted partners, taking three to five years to choose a mate and partnering for life. They have more courtship moves than Michael Jackson. There’s the sky moo. The bill clack. Head shake. And armpit sniff. To name a few.
Laysan albatross are dedicated parents, taking egg incubation shifts that can last three weeks at a stretch, flying several thousand miles foraging for a single meal to feed their chick, and not daring to abandon their nests even in the face of land-based mammalian predators—those introduced by the humans who may have followed migrating birds to these islands—like the snarling jaws of dogs, a sounder of vicious feral pigs, and, sadly, some nefarious humans themselves.
Laysan albatross are works of art. Their faces look like well-known Hawaiian wildlife artist Patrick Ching took his paintbrush to them.
Laysan albatross are master navigators. They come equipped with pin-point, built-in GPS.
Laysan albatross have feathers as soft as air.
Laysan albatross embody the sea. One whiff of a Laysan albatross is enough to make a retired sailor return to his one, true love. Stat.
Laysan albatross exude the peacefulness of their goodly godly sponsor, Lono. Which explains why just being in their presence is transformational. If you let it. Won’t you join me in embodying the spiritual form of the Laysan albatross in 2016? Peace. Pretty please?
 This is dedicated to the ruthless bastards who destroyed the nest sites of 15 Laysan albatross inside a fenced area at Ka`ena Point Natural Area Reserve on Oahu–because I have to believe that had they known what I know about albatrosses before they stepped foot inside, they would have sat in profound admiration of these birds, instead of smashing their eggs, mutilating adults, and stealing seabird conservation equipment. A $10,000 reward has been raised for information leading to the successful arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for this heinous crime. If you have any tips, please call 808-643-DLNR.
 Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged