Midway’s beloved birds, albatross (or, more colloquially known as “gooney birds”), are the signature wildlife of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.
One of the wonders of the wide Pacific Ocean is that of a Laysan Albatross / Mōlī (Phoebastria immutabilis) gliding across the waves and wind, seemingly without effort. They are made for a life at sea—and indeed, they spend the majority of their lives soaring throughout the North Pacific, upwards of 90% of their entire lifetime in the sky and at sea. They cover extensive tracts, sometimes hundreds of miles a day, way out west to Japan, north to the Aleutian Islands, or even eastwards to California in search of food (typically squid, fish eggs, and occasionally crustaceans).
Mention of Midway brings to mind myriads of birds. But, there's more to Midway...
Located at the far end of the extensive Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is one of the most remote atolls in the world—more than 1,500 miles north-west from Honolulu, Oʻahu. Home to the world’s largest albatross colony (and more than 20 other migratory and breeding seabirds and shorebirds), Midway Atoll NWR evokes the idea of an isolated, pristine environment. However, after decades of dredging, building, digging, moving, and bulldozing, Midway Atoll NWR is far from it—making wildlife conservation, habitat restoration, and invasive species control both challenging and rewarding.
Wieteke Holthuijzen: budding environmental scientist, passionate birder.