|Laysan Albatross, Midway Atoll|
One small story I missed, however, until a friend sent me this link, was the effect of the tsunami on Pacific Islands. The waves, spreading out over the Pacific, easily overran many small islands that may rise only a few feet above the level of the surrounding ocean. One such place is Midway Atoll, home to one of the most important seabird colonies in the north Pacific. Thousands of albatrosses were killed when the waves swept over these flat, sandy islands, just as chicks were getting ready to fledge.
Albatrosses are long-lived birds, so despite a catastrophic wipe-out of this year's chicks, most of the adults will be back again next year, including "Wisdom," a female Laysan Albatross known to be 60 years old. But since this is a place I know well, having been there several times in the past decade, I was shocked to hear of the damage. The fact is, there are probably similar stories from many other islands still not heard from across this vast ocean, including many with human inhabitants.