I was interviewed by a Princeville homeowner and writer, Mary Ann Colihan, for the July/August issue of the Troon Golf & Travel digital magazine. The story is about the albatrosses who nest on the Makai Golf Course. If you would like to read about them, please check it out.
I took this photo of Manu, the last chick left in Princeville. His mother had returned to feed him, and in the photo he is just beginning to tap on her bill to beg her for food.
You have probably noticed the baby feathers adorning the heads of the chicks. Many still has most of his left, but as they lose them they sometimes end up looking like “Three Stooges” characters, or like Bozo the Clown or Harpo Marx. Notice Mom’s head feathers. The nesters all show molting on their heads at this time of year. You may also see a black spot on her head. That is one of the ectoparasites that inhabit the bodies of albatrosses, either a louse or a flat fly. I read that the waved albatross, which lives in the Galapagos Islands, is critically endangered, and that the louse that is only found on that bird is critically co-endangered, a new expression for me. Why would this matter? Who really cares if a louse is endangered? Ew, gross!
For anyone who might find this topic interesting (and as a founding member of the Slug Appreciation Society comprised of some of the odder Los Angeles Zoo docents, I am afraid that I count myself in that weird little group) please read this short article from ACAP, the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels. You can follow a link to an article in Oryx that is actually quite fascinating, in a lousy, parasitic sort of way.
The ACAP website, by the way, has short articles about the latest research related to albatrosses.
And if you think parasites are quite fascinating, check out the book Parasite Rex, Inside the World of Nature’s Most Dangerous Creatures, by Carl Zimmer. It is a world most people are happily unaware of, with life forms much more terrifying than than any old prehistoric dinosaur.