In November of 1999 as a young biologist, I watched as current Emeritus Board Member Rob Shallenberger, then Midway’s acting Refuge Manager, tried to play “matchmaker” to two Short-tailed Albatross (STAL) that had shown up on Sand Island at the same time. After a brief dance, exchange of a call, one of the birds turned around and flew away, dashing all our hopes for love at first sight.
While individual STAL had been recorded at Midway since 1938, there had been no reliable record of a nesting pair to that point. In 2000, I was part of a group of volunteers that helped erect one of the first STAL decoy plots (with a solar-powered sound system) on Eastern Island, near to a lone male that had been showing up annually. A decoy artist from Japan supplied beautifully painted porcelain birds as role models.
A few years later, another 20 or so Laysan Albatross decoys were repainted as so-called “Golden Goonies” by an Oceanic Society / Sierra Club group visiting Midway Atoll and added to the others. In 2010/2011, the hard work paid off as Midway Atoll had its first documented hatching of a STAL chick on January 14, 2011. That same chick survived a March 2011 tsunami, and went on to successfully fledge in May 2011.
By Friends of Midway Atoll President, Wayne Sentman