Albatross – their world, their ways


Tui De Roy, Mark Jones, Julian Fitter published by David Bateman, Auckland 2008.  “The Albatross is a creature of legend, of poetry and of dreams.  It is the ultimate nomad, whose sailplane wings – the longest of any living bird – harness the shrieking winds of the oceans as it glides around the globe…”

On the front of this beautiful book is a small sticker telling me that it was a finalist in the 2009 Montana Book Awards.    There is a foreward by HRH Prince Charles and a small photo of a be-suited Charles closely observing a pair of albatross at Tairoa Heads.  He says “The plight of the albatross should remind us of the ultimate fragility of all the migratory species that mark the great cycle of the seasons … they are now dependent upon the whim of man – either we can choose to do something to save them, or stand by and let them disappear….”

The photographs of the birds and their environments are spectacular.  There is a comparatively small image of a pair of Chatham albatross – so smooth and chiselled they look like stone (Page 168).

Some of the photographs and information are more than disturbing – the image of “ordinary house mice consuming a live Tristan albatross chick on its nest” is ghastly.  But then so is the effect of  we the people “it has been found that Chatham albatrosses fall victim to low but persistent levels of bycatch, primarily in the Chatham Rise longline fisheries.” (Page 168)

“Just as we discover the magic of this glorious bird, so its star is falling.  Today, over three-quarters of all albatross species are edging towards extinction”


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