July 22, 2004
As we zig-zag across Albatross Bank, it is abundantly clear why this area is so named, with a multitude of black-footed albatross, grouped in flocks of 20 or 30. Their clumsy ascent involves much foot flapping, seeming to stumble on water before taking flight. After their awkward takeoff, the albatross proves a bit more apt in the air, though seeming a bit "over-winged" for the purpose of soaring. Interspersed among the black-footed albatross were two short-tailed albatross, distinguishable by their distinct pink beak. The short-tailed albatross are a highly endangered species, due in part to the fact that their nesting grounds occur on volcanic islands. Though this a marine mammal survey, we do complete sighting forms for the short-tailed albatross to assist in documenting their distribution and abundance.
In the hours after our watch, between the hours of 10 PM and 6AM, crew members can apply for a fishing license from the captain. This evening I stayed up past my usual bedtime to watch the fishing in the fertile waters of Albatross Bank. Used to the modest-sized fishes of Stellwagon Bank of the coast of New England, I was astounded by the enormous halibut roughly the size of a dining room table. The halibut are sometimes known as "barn doors" by the local fisherman and I now see why.
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