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Critically Endangered Waved Albatross
Salsa? Easy. Tango? Child’s play. The courtship dance of the Waved Albatross? Now that takes a born professional

The dance begins with a male and female Waved Albatross (also known as Galapagos Albatross) approaching each other. With bodies facing, they rapidly circle their bills around each others, adding in sequences of bows and bends.  As momentum builds, they strike their beaks as if swords in fencing match. Timing is their specialty – their beaks clack without missing a beat, their heads dip and bob in unison and they break only to let out an “anh-a-annhh” sound. It is critical that they are in sync with their partner, since Waved Albatrosses mate for life. With a lifespan of 40 years or longer, this is no light commitment.

A Waved Albatross pair will produce only one egg, which both parents will incubate for approximately two months. Once the chick is born, it remains with the parents for about five months before fledging. The chick will remain away from their birth place for five to six years, although their parents will return every year.

The Waved Albatross population has been severely decreasing over the last forty years and it is now listed as a Critically Endangered species. The only albatross found in the tropics, the Waved Albatross breeds on only two islands in the world, Isla Española in the Galapagos archipelago and Isla de la Plata, Ecuador. On Isla de la Plata, invasive goats destroy the vegetation and feral cats directly predate on native species. With limited breeding habitat, it was essential that invasive species be removed as soon as possible from Isla de la Plata to protect the Waved Albatross from extinction.

In 2009, Island Conservation successfully removed feral cats from Isla de la Plata. Island Conservation removed invasive goats from the island in 2008. Now free from invasive predators, the Waved Albatross has the opportunity to thrive. Other species native to Isla de la Plata that will benefit from the restoration include Frigatebirds, Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies, Red-footed Boobies, and Red-billed Tropicbirds. The island is also home to the island subspecies of Long-tailed Mockingbird and five endemic reptiles.
 
Video courtesy of UncorneredMarket.com
Panoramic view of Isla de la Plata, Ecuador

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