1. General Description and Habitat
The Laysan Albatross, large seabirds with wing spans of more than 6 feet, spend most of their lives on the open waters of the north Pacific. They live on the water without touching land for months and years at a time, sleeping and feeding on the surface. Being masters of gliding on the wind currents above the waves, albatross can cover great distances over the vast Pacific, ranging from the waters off North and South America to the Japanese Islands, from the Hawaiian Islands to the Arctic Circle.
However, they cannot lay eggs on the water, so in November each year, adult albatross return to land to breed and raise their young chicks.
Laysan Albatross are native to the Hawaiian Islands. Most albatross nest in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, a string of 130 uninhabited islands and atolls, stretching from Kauai to the Midway and Kure atolls, 1200 miles to the northwest. One of these islands is Laysan, which gives its name to the species of albatross. In 2015, the main population of Laysans numbered more than 660,000 nesting pairs, located on Midway Island.
About 20 years ago, small groups of Laysan Albatross started nesting on Kauai. Several hundred nesting pairs now make this island home. Most are located at the Fish and Wild Life refuge at Kilauea Point, site of the century-old lighthouse. But some have chosen residential and agricultural sites to locate their nests.
Other albatross in the world
There are 22 varieties of albatross throughout the world. The Royal Albatross of Australia and New Zealand are even larger than the Laysan, with a wing span of 14 feet.
National Geographic Magazine published an extensive article in December 2007 about the albatross worldwide, "Wings of the Albatross". The article, with many fascinating maps, graphics, and photos, is available on-line. The link is given below:
National Geographic article in Dec 2007 "Wings of the Albatross" (http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/12/albatross/safina-text.html)