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White-backed Albatross


White-backed Albatross (Phoebastria albatrus) is listed in the IUCN Red List in the status of "vulnerable species"

White-backed Albatross (Phoebastria albatrus) is listed in the Red Book of Russia

White-backed Albatross (Phoebastria albatrus) - Seabird from the albatross family. The largest seabird in Russia, wingspan exceeds 2 meters. Adult birds are white, a yellow coating on the head and neck, the top of the wings and tail along the edges are black-brown. Bill and legs are light, usually pink or bluish. The plumage of young birds is darker, with white stripes across the wing bases.


The white-backed albatross is a nomadic Pacific bird, previously nesting on the volcanic islands of the Pacific Ocean - the Pescador Islands, Ryukyu, Daito, Bonin. Today, white-backed albatross nests are found on the protected islands of Torishima and Senkaku. Nests were not recorded in Russia, however, white-backed albatrosses appear in autumn and winter in the coastal waters of Primorye, Sakhalin, Kamchatka, the Komandorsky and Kuril Islands.


Nests on islands of volcanic origin, with steep grassy banks. Puberty occurs at 7-8 years. Like all albatrosses, the white-backed lays only one egg. which both parents incubate alternately for 64 days. For about 5 months, the chick remains in the nest, parents feed it with semi-digested food - squid, fish, marine crustaceans, waste from St. John's wort and fishing.

Conservation status

The white-backed albatross is considered an endangered species. At present, it is estimated that there are about 250 individuals. The main reasons for the disappearance of the white-backed albatross are considered to be - late puberty, high mortality of chicks from rats and feral cats, volcanic activity, poaching of birds. The white-backed albatross is listed in the Red Book of Russia and Japan.

General characteristics and field characteristics

Coloring. There are no gender and seasonal differences in color. Adult birds are almost completely white, a yellow coating on the head and neck, the top of the wings along the edges is black-brown. The back, shoulders, bottom of the wings are white. Along the edge of the white tail is a black-brown transverse strip. The beak is pinkish-bodied, its end is light blue.

Figure 39. White-backed albatross beak according to Kozlova, 1947

Legs are the same color or bluish-white. Downy chicks are dark with a grayish tint, legs and beak are black. The birds in the nesting outfit are chocolate brown, the underside of the body is slightly lighter, especially on the chin. With age over several years, the plumage progressively brightens, dark feathers are gradually replaced by light and white. The beak of young birds is pale pink with a bluish end, legs are flesh-colored with a bluish tinge.


Nesting range. Currently nests on Torishima Island, as well as on the Senkaku Islands in the south of the East China Sea.

Figure 40. The distribution area of ​​the white-backed albatross
1 - modern nesting sites, 2 - breeding sites in the past in a period of high abundance, 3 - wandering area at the beginning of XX century, 4 - modern wandering area

In the past, also nested on the islands of Kitanoshima, Mukoshima, Yomeshima, Nashinoshima. Race in the group of islands Daito, Kobisho and Aginkot in the group of Ryukyu, as well as Biosho in the group of the Pescador Islands, Rice, Kenyon, 1962, Tickell, 1975.

The area of ​​the white-backed albatross wanderings includes the entire northern part of the Pacific Ocean. In the past, the wandering area was more extensive. In the south of the range, the area of ​​wanderings was outlined by a border passing 18 ° s. w. off the Asian coast, 10 ° C. w. - in the central part of the Pacific Ocean and at the southern tip of the California Peninsula - in the eastern, and in the north of the range — along the southern part of the Chukchi Sea Sudilovskaya, 1951, Sanger, 1972, etc.

This species more than other albatrosses roams in the seas. Associated with this is its penetration into more northern latitudes. So, on September 4, 1939, M. M. Sleptsov observed eight individuals of the white-backed albatross at Cape Heart-Stone. In some areas, concentrated in the past in large quantities. Thus, the remains of the white-backed albatross were very numerous in the kitchen wastes of the ancient inhabitants of the Aleutian Islands Yesner, 1976.

About the current distribution of white-backed albatross, when its number is at an extremely low level, it is necessary to judge only by the encounters of individual birds. Almost all modern sightings of the species in winter were between 30 and 40 ° C. N, and in spring and summer - between 40 and 55 ° C. w. Over the past thirty to forty years, individual individuals have been recorded near Sakhalin, the Kuril and Commander Islands, the western coast of Kamchatka, the eastern Bering Sea, the Pacific coast of North America, Japan and the Hawaiian Islands Kartashev, 1961, Shunts, 1961, Nechaev, 1969 , Sanger, 1972.


In the past, white-backed albatross was abundant. At the end of the last century, more than 100 thousand individuals lived on Torisima alone. Most of the birds (5 million individuals from 1887 to 1903) were exterminated by Japanese feather hunters Palmer, 1962, Yamashina, 1975. By 1929, 1,400 survived, by 1939 - 30-50 birds. In the late 40s, only a few couples multiplied on the island. Now, as a result of protective measures, the number began to grow very slowly. In 1973, 57 nesting pairs and 24 fledglings were recorded on Torisime, in 1976–1978. - about 40 pairs of adults and 11-15 chicks each.

The total population of Torishima Island is about 200 birds. In recent years, the white-backed albatross began to breed on the Senkaku Islands, where there were 12 individuals. A visit by the white-backed albatross during the nesting season also noted other islands, in particular Hawaiian, where, however, breeding does not occur Tickell, 1975, Yamashina, 1975, Hasegawa, 1978.

Economic value, protection

It does not have economic value. It is a very beautiful bird, therefore its significance should be considered from an aesthetic point of view.

The white-backed albatross is now one of the rarest birds on the globe. It is included in the Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Red Book of the USSR and the Red Book of Japanese Birds. In Japan, attempts are currently being made to increase its number through biotechnological measures.