The Anchorage Fish and Wildlife Field Office is responsible for the recovery of two species that are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA): the short-tailed albatross (Phoebastria albatrus); and the Aleutian shield fern (Polystichum aleuticum). The Anchorage Field Office was also responsible for the recovery of the Aleutian Canada Goose (Branta canadensis leucopareia), which was delisted in 2001. For more information on the recovery of the Aleutian Canada goose, please click here.
Read All About It: Short-tailed Albatross Recovery Is Making a Big Splash!
STAL primarily nest on two islands; one of the islands -Torishima, hosts 85% of the population, and is an active volcano. The other nesting location, in the Senkaku Island group, is politically disputed territory between Japan, China and Taiwan, and is highly sought after for its oil and gas resources.
The Short-Tailed Albatross Recovery Team (START) finalized the STAL Recovery Plan in 2008. Due to the uncertain stability of the two primary nesting islands, a recovery task criterion specified in the STAL Recovery Plan was the establishment of a third, “safe” breeding colony. The START determined that, although experimental, the best method for attempting to establish a new breeding colony would be by translocating young chicks from Torishima to another island and hand-rearing them for several months until they were capable of flight (fledging). In February 2008, the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology, with support from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and others, moved ten STAL chicks from the main breeding colony to an historic nesting site on Mukojima, an island 215 miles south of Torishima. Each year thereafter, fifteen chicks were moved and reared, and so far a total of 55 STAL chicks have fledged from Mukojima. Some STAL chicks both from Mukojima and Torishima were tagged with satellite transmitters and were documented in Russia's Sea of Okhotsk as well as in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. Some have traveled down the west coast of the United States all the way to California. The START hopes that by the completion of the translocation work in 2012, a total of 70 STAL chicks will have fledged from Mukojima, and will return there to breed in a few years. An early sign that this goal may be realized is the observation of several chicks that were reared on Mukojima in 2008 and 2009 returning to the island in 2011 and practicing their courtship dances! Read more about the translocation process, and the ways in which researchers are tracking the success of the translocation effort and the fledglings.
Click here to listen to short-tailed albatrosses volcalizing while at the main breeding colony on Torishima. Recordings such as this one are played at the translocation site on Mukojima and at an alternate breeding colony on Torishima using a solar-powered sound system. Playing the colony sounds in combination with putting out life-like decoys helps attract other STAL to colony sites and familiarizes chicks with their species' sounds.
Aleutian Shield Fern
Last updated: December 2014