Ten Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastria albatrus chicks have been moved by helicopter, from their current stronghold on Torishima Island to the site of a former colony 350 km to the South-east.
The potential for future volcanic events on Torishima is among the most serious threats to this Vulnerable species. Currently, 80-85% of the world population breeds on a highly erodible slope on the outwash plain from the caldera of an active volcano. Monsoons send torrents of ash-laden water down this slope across the colony site. A volcanic eruption could also send lava, ash or poisonous gases through the colony.
The translocation site, Mukojima, part of Japan’s Bonin Islands (and administratively part of the Metropolis of Tokyo), is non-volcanic. Short-tailed Albatross bred here at least until the 1920s.
“Establishing viable breeding colonies in other safer locations is paramount to ensuring the survival and recovery of the Short-tailed Albatross”, said Judy Jacobs of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which has worked on the translocation of the albatross chicks with staff from the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology, and other Japanese and US organisations which together form the Short-tailed Albatross Recovery Team (START).