Tern Island Albatrosses - 1999

Wake Forest University

Dataset credit

National Science Foundation


Primary contact David Anderson Wake Forest University
Data entry Ei Fujioka Duke University
Data entry David Hyrenbach Duke University Marine Laboratory



Satellite telemetry was used to identify the foraging distributions of two congeneric species of albatrosses that nest in the tropics/subtropics. Breeding black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) and Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) nesting in Tern Island (Northwest Hawaiian Islands) and tracked during the 1998 breeding season (January - June) performed foraging trips to continental shelves off North America. Black-footed albatross made long trips to the west coast of North America (British Columbia to California). Laysan albatross traveled primarily to the north of the Hawaiian Islands, and reached the waters of the Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska. These albatross species mixed short and long trips during the chick-rearing period (February - June), but engaged in short foraging trips during the brooding period (within 18 days after chick hatched, January - February).

In 1999, the breeding success of both albatross species was depressed, with a large-scale failure for the Laysan albatross. Out of nine black-footed albatross tracked, two chicks died during this study. Out of sixteen Laysan albatross tracked, the eggs of seven birds did not hatch and eight chicks died during the tracking study. Due to this massive breeding failure, the satellite tracked birds abandoned their colony and dispersed widely across the North Pacific Ocean. Thus, the 1998 (central-place foraging) and 1999 (dispersal from colonies) tracking data should be considered separately.


The 1999 data provided information on albatross movements during a year of depressed reproductive success, when many birds abandoned the colony. An understanding on the interplay between the distribution and the reproductive success of North Pacific albatrosses has important implications for assessing how oceanographic variability influences their population dynamics.

We thank C. Alexander, L. Carsten, P. Fern√°ndez, F. Juola, P. Sievert, A. Viggiano and S. Wang for assistance in the field, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for logistical support. This research was funded by National Science Foundation grant DEB 9629539 to D. Anderson.

Supplemental information

These albatross were tracked using PTT-100 Argos transmitters (Microwave Telemetry, Columbia, MD) operating at a 90-second repetition rate and programmed to operate on a 8:24 h ON:OFF duty cycle. Transmitter bench-tests before deployment revealed that the Argos location quality classes (lcs) had the following median position errors, expressed in kilometers: lc B (8.46), lc A (3.29), lc 0 (4.80), lc 1 (1.96), lc 2 (0.49), and lc 3 (0.26).

The low-quality class B locations were discarded because they mis-represented the telemetry tracks. Thus, this dataset includes 4635 high-quality locations (lc classes A or better) with median positional errors <4 km.




Attributes described below represent those in the original dataset provided by the provider.
Only minimum required attributes are visible and downloadable online. Other attributes may be obtained upon provider's permission.

Attributes in dataset

Attribute (table column)Description
record_numberdefinition not provided
bird_numberdefinition not provided
speciesSpecies name recorded
hours_gmtHours in GMT
minutes_gmtMinutes in GMT
seconds_gmtSeconds in GMT
argos_qualityQuality of Argos data
latitudeLatitude in decimal degrees
longitudeLongitude in decimal degrees
geomGeometry field added by OBIS-SEAMAP
oidUnique ID number (generated by OBIS-SEAMAP)
Marine mammals0
Sea turtles0
Rays and sharks0
Other species0
Non spatial0
Non species0
Date, Begin1999-01-15
Date, End1999-06-10
Temporal prec.111111
Latitude18.05 - 51.25
Longitude140.05 - 238.20
Coord. prec.3 decimal digits
Data typeTelemetry location
Traveled (km)0
Contr. through
Sharing policy CC-BY-NC (Minimum)
Shared with OBIS*
GBIF (via DOI)*
* Aggregated summary
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See metadata in FGDC XML
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