When I asked Marty, our seabird and marine mammal observer from US Fish and Wildlife, what the highlights of his trip were he listed off numerous species of birds. A Red Legged Kitty Wake, usually sighted in the Bering Sea, took a ride on our bow for a while. A South Polar Skua flew by perhaps at the end of a long journey from the Antarctic. Marty even helped rescue a Storm Petrel that had crashed landed on the NW Explorer and he built a bird feeder out of a pink pen and a plastic pipette filled with sugar water for a lost humming bird.
But the rarest sighting was the endangered Short Tail Albatross. This large rare seabird came perilously close to extinction when they were hunted for their feathers in the late 19th century. By the 1930s the only population left was on Tori-shima, which is listed as a class A volcano. By 1949 the species was thought to be extinct but an estimated 50 individuals returned to the island and the first egg was observed in 1954.
The picture Marty was able to get is of a juvenile, it is still recognized by the brightly colored bill.
Read about US Fish and Wildlife’s efforts to protect this amazing bird: