Albatross is a powerful bird that flies up to 25,000 miles to find food for their chicks, and whose majesty is endangered due to their increased vulnerability to modern conditions. Albatrosses nest on small islands throughout the sea and travel thousands of miles to be able to eat and feed their chicks. This book contains many arguments as to why humans need to become more conservative of the environment and less destructive. There are facts presented on the albatross rate of survival due to the impact and the effects of humans. Although fishing restriction and habitat protection have signaled positive gains for marine animals, “Eye of the Albatross” by Carl Safina is an interesting book that will help us understand why an urgent appeal to preserve the ocean while there is still time is needed because birds like the albatross probe the unmistakable environmental impact of the encounters between humans and marine life, albatross are being entrapped in commercial fishing nets, and they are also ingesting plastic trash that washes ashore in vast quantities on their nesting islands.
Throughout their journey albatross have always being in constant danger. They do not have an abundance of natural enemies, with the exception of humans. During the 19th century they were slaughtered for their wings and feathers bringing some of the species nearly to extinction. Their feathers were used to do pillows. Presently they are still being threatened by human’s presence; we may not kill them for their feathers, but we are definitely killing them with our actions. Albatross feed from the trash that can be found around the ocean later feeding it to their chicks. Another risk cause by humans are fishing nets, albatross are being entrapped in fishing nets or fishing lines from passing ships causing their deaths as well as the chick they have to feed. All these risks combined with global warming are causing a negative effect on their food chain or ecosystem. These changes are killing their food supply and them at the same time. These birds are also losing their habitat and breeding grounds. As mentioned before, albatrosses feed on everything they see to include discarded human trash that reaches their beaches. One particular breed threatened by humans and described by Carl Safina is the Layson albatross.
The layson albatrosses feeding and nesting grounds are subject to global warming, and its effects on the population of their food supply. Global warming has increased the temperature of the oceans forcing their food to migrate to colder water. This phenomenon will have an effect when the albatross hunt since they will be force to travel longer distances and fly further away from their nesting grounds endangering their lives and their young ones. Albatross are not the only affected ones; there are some other smaller species that are being destroyed by altering the food chain in the ocean. According to Safina, these effects could be fixed if people could simply reverse global warming. At the end, not only humans, but other species, and particularly the most vulnerable creatures are the ones paying for what human’s behavior is causing.
Eye of the Albatross describes in great detail the magnificence of the albatross. Safina studies the albatross as they traveled across the oceans and return to their breeding grounds in the northwest Hawaiian Islands. He watched how the albatross goes from being a youngster to maturity, to courtship one another, how they mate, and tried to keep a nest and support their chicks by traveling thousands of miles searching for fish to feed themselves and their young ones. Safina also watched how human trash that washed up on the shores was used as nesting material or eaten and feed to the chicks by the hardworking parents. Eye of the Albatross describes the life of a particular albatross Safina named “Amelia”. Safina followed and watched Amelia throughout the breeding season. Not everything he witnessed was nice and pleasant; some of the things he witnessed were harsh and unfortunate, but they provided a good basis for his arguments about pollution. Safina narrates how an albatross swallowed and tried to regurgitate trash such as a tooth brush to feed its chick, but was not able to regurgitate it. Many of these birds are getting desperate looking for food that will help their chicks grow strong enough to reach adulthood, but instead they run into trash and eat it. Albatrosses breeding seasons are several years apart, and if their habitats are continuously being polluted they will stand no chance of survival. We have to take action and do our part.
Another way humans are affecting albatross’s habitat is with commercial fishing ships. Several albatrosses of different types are killed annually, particularly per careless fisherman while they are fishing for tuna. The main threat is longlines. Safina describes how depending on the type of fish being sought, albatross are baited with thousands of hooks. When longlines are let out behind a moving boat, the birds try to snatch the bait before the line sink causing them to get hooked. During the 1980 to 1990 decade more albatross used to get caught in the fishing nets as they were searching for food. These problems still exist, but there are presently more regulations to try to protect species like the albatross.
Eye of the Albatross by Carl Safina successfully promotes more environmental awareness with less environmental impact to increase the survival rate of species such as the layson albatross and albatrosses everywhere. Carl Safina spent much time amongst the albatrosses which makes him an expert on the subject. Safina has several books on different species and the impact that humans are making on different habitats. His methods of observation are giving us an inside view and perspective on how our actions are affecting other species’ survival rates. Every action on our part causes a reaction, and these reactions are causing an unbalance in our ecosystem. Safina explains how commercial fishing and pollution are affecting the albatross amongst other species.
Safina, Carl. (2002). Eye of the albatross: Visions of hope and survival. New York: Henry Holt.