Black-footed albatross

Rob Suryan

Latin name: Phoebastria nigripes

Black-footed albatrosses that nest in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands will sometimes fly to the west coast of North America, over 10,000 km round trip, while gathering food to feed their chicks. Black-footed albatrosses have the highest bycatch rate among albatross species in North Pacific commercial fisheries (bycatch is the unwanted fish and other marine creatures caught during commercial fishing for a different species). Dr. Rob Suryan with the University of Washington Sea Grant, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, and commercial fishing industry partners conducted research to show that current regulations did not protect albatross from bycatch on certain gear types and recommended alternatives that reduced bycatch and were less burdensome on fishing vessel captains and crews. 

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Did you know? Black-footed Albatross have the highest fisheries bycatch rate of the three North Pacific albatross species. Breeding pairs that nest in the Hawaiian Islands sometimes travel over 10,000 km round-trip to the west coast of North America to forage and return back to Hawaii to feed their chick (they lay only 1 egg). These trips can last 1-2 weeks or more.  


Fischer, K. N., R. M. Suryan, D. D. Roby, and G. R. Balogh. 2009. Post-breeding season distribution of black-footed and Laysan albatrosses satellite-tagged in Alaska: Inter-specific differences in spatial overlap with North Pacific fisheries. Biological Conservation 142:751-760.

Guy, T. J., S. L. Jennings, R. M. Suryan, E. F. Melvin, M. A. Bellman, L. T. Ballance, B. A. Blackie, D. A. Croll, T. Deguchi, T. O. Geernaert, R. W. Henry, M. Hester, K. D. Hyrenbach, J. Jahncke, M. A. Kappes, K. Ozaki, J. Roletto, F. Sato, W. J. Sydeman, and J. E. Zamon. 2013. Overlap of North Pacific albatrosses with the U.S. west coast groundfish and shrimp fisheries. Fisheries Research 147:222-234.

Suryan, R. M., D. J. Anderson, S. A. Shaffer, D. D. Roby, Y. Tremblay, D. P. Costa, P. R. Sievert, F. Sato, K. Ozaki, G. R. Balogh, and N. Nakamura. 2008. Wind, waves, and wing Loading: morphological specialization may limit range expansion of endangered albatrosses. PLoS ONE 3:e4016. doi:4010.1371/journal.pone.0004016.

Suryan, R. M., and K. N. Fischer. 2010. Stable isotope analysis and satellite tracking reveal interspecific resource partitioning of nonbreeding albatrosses off Alaska. Canadian Journal of Zoology 88:299-305.