First, let me introduce to you a seabird known as the Laysan albatross. Or mōli, in Hawaiian. This seabird is equipped with magical powers to cause your eyes to widen, your jaw to drop, your opinion of birds to change, and your understanding of an albatross to be anything other than a burden. Albatross will make you a birder. They will make you a science geek. A fan of physics. Albatross will make you a believer in the goodness of the world. A lover of nature. A protector of the ocean. A champion of the environment. Don’t believe me? Follow along throughout this breeding season, and let’s see what you say in seven or eight months.
Because Laysan albatross did all that and more for me. They are the reason I’ve been called an environmentalist. Why I tote re-useable bags to the grocery store. Why I proffer a well worn mug to my local baristas and carry stainless steel straws in my purse alongside my re-useable bamboo utensils. Albatross are the beings who raised my awareness to the vast amounts of plastic polluting our oceans.
Most Saturday mornings, I volunteer at Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge where it’s my goal to entertain visitors with tidbits of nature that make them walk away shaking their heads in wonder and awe. “Wow. That’s amazing,” I hope they’ll say by the time I’m done with them.
“How tall are you?” I might ask a man, and let’s say he responds that he measures six-feet-tall.
“From wingtip to wingtip,” I’ll say and point to a Laysan albatross gliding by, “That bird measures longer than you are tall,” I’ll say.
But I won’t stop there. “How old are you,” I might ask next, and let’s say he responds that he’s 30 years old.
“The oldest known wild bird in the world is a Laysan albatross. And she’s more than twice your age.”
“See those chicks over there?” I’ll continue, because once I get started, it’s hard to shut me up. “When they take their very first flight, they’ll fly out to sea and won’t touch land again for three to five years.”
Now, introducing: Albatography by Kim. On this new website, I’ll share bits and pieces of information about Laysan albatross throughout the breeding season as it happens on the ground, from now until June or July when the chicks fledge. My goal for this website is to provide a way for me to give back to a bird that’s given me so much joy over the past 10 years. So I hope to raise a bit of money through the sale of the photography you see on this website for those worthy organizations caring for and raising awareness about and knowledge of albatross. Organizations like Kauai Albatross Network, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Pacific Rim Conservation, Hawaii Wildlife Center, and Kauai’s own Save our Shearwater Seabird Rehabilitation Center. I’ll rotate these organizations on a monthly basis. For every print sold, I’ll donate 20 percent of the net proceeds. For the remainder of 2017, donations will go to Save Our Shearwaters Seabird Rehabilitation Center here on Kauai, because Tracy always accepts any albatross in need of care that I take to her, even on Thanksgiving Day. Thank you, Tracy. Because this is the season of giving, from now until the rest of the year, I’ll bump my donation to 30 percent of net proceeds. Help me. Help them.
The first reported Laysan albatross in Kauai for this year’s breeding season arrived on November 11th. That was a week later than last year, and it had many of us drumming our fingers in anticipation. From my experience, it’s the more experienced nesters who arrive first. I’m also told it’s usually the males who plant their webbed feet on the ground before females. I suppose the females are still filling their bellies with squid and fish, in anticipation of the energy requirements necessary to produce and lay an egg the size of a 12-ounce soda can.
So, what you’ll see on the new website are images like these–some from this season, some from seasons past–of what I see as I see it. Right now that’s albatross flying in, albatross patiently awaiting their mate, albatross dancing with their mate, and, as always, albatross being beautiful. To purchase any of these, hop on over to the “View Images” page. Thank you for your support of the world’s wondrous creatures we call Laysan albatross.