Scott Shaffer monitoring Black-footed Albatross. Well, a total of 9 albatross fledglings have been equipped with satellite transmitters and they have all left the beaches of Midway Atoll for the open sea. The first bird, a black-footed albatross fledgling (TOPPID 2807009, Argos ID 55284), was equipped on 17 July. It's already 1,550 km northwest of the atoll (about 39 N, 172 E). At this latitude, the bird is near the cooler waters of the North Pacific Current. Adult black-footed albatrosses frequent these latitudes during breeding, so the eating should be good. Problem is, it may take this bird a bit of time to figure out what's good to eat. Albatrosses have to learn quickly what is good to eat. Otherwise, they'll starve after their body reserves run low. All albatrosses and petrels leave with no parents to show them how to eat. So, its probably a matter of trial and error before they eat something that tastes like what they were given by their parents.
The others are all heading in the same general direction like they were shot out of a cannon. You can see the tracks at the TOPP data page. We also equipped two Laysan albatross fledglings. The image below showsthe black-footed albatrosses' latest positions. You can see the Hawaiian Islands in the lower right corner. On the data page itself, you can mouse over the dots to reveal when the bird was tagged and the most recent day its tag sent a signal to the satellite.
I'm anxious to see if the Laysan albatrosses head further north than the black-footed fledglings, because we know, based on previous data, that adult Laysans hang out further north during the summer months. Stay tuned. Posted from UCSC Long Marine Laboratory.