World renowned oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle reflected, “I had an opportunity to go to Midway Island, way out there at the outermost part of this beautiful island. I met a lot of wild creatures there, including a bird. This bird, named Wisdom, was banded in the 1950s, so we know how old she is, so we know that she’s flown thousands of miles voyaging over the sea. And surely in that time she has seen changes. The way those of us who’ve lived a few decades have witnessed changes, more change than during all preceding human history.”
Susan White, Superintendent of Operations for the Pacific Marine National Monument stated, “Wisdom is a story of hope for, for all of the environmental problems in the world, Wisdom is alive and thriving, as old as she is and itʻs a testament to the health of Papahanaumokuakea and the health of that system and the work thatʻs gone on to protect and conserve that, and to understand that place for generations and millennia.”
Beth Flint, a Wildlife Biologist for the Pacific Marine National Monument added, “Albatrosses are particularly good at giving you a sense of the health of the ocean on a global scale because they fly so far. So every season Wisdom goes out foraging, and can fly about 10,000 miles in a shopping trip. She goes all the way up to Bering Sea, she goes way over to the Western Tropic, the Western North Pacific. She’s flying tens of thousands of miles every year and sampling the prey, the food in the ocean, from this huge area. So we get information about what kind of contaminants are out there affecting the food. So there’s a lot of ways that an albatross is sampling and telling us about the entire North Pacific.”
After traveling thousands of miles each year, Wisdom, the oldest documented bird in the wild, returns to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge with a belly full of food for her newly hatched chick.
Ann Bell, Outreach Specialist for the Pacific Marine National Monument, USFWS, announced, “We have some super exciting news to announce. Wisdom, the worldʻs oldest known bird in the wild, who is at least 65 years old, she might be older, her egg just hatched on Febuary 1st. It was an egg she laid at the end of November, just right after Thanksgiving and for the last two weeks, sitting on the egg has been Wisdomʻs mate. Once the egg hatched just last week on Febuary 1st, he continued to try to feed the chick although there wasnʻt much left in his stomach for him to feed the chick with so we were anxiously waiting for Wisdom to return and she showed up last night with her belly full.”
Her healthy offspring will aid a new generation of navigators to find distant shores beyond the horizon.
Dr. Earle said, “Now I think of Wisdom and her voyages out every year coming back to the same place and I think of the voyagers taking off on this worldwide expedition, this mission. And there’s some kind of element here of synergy. This is a moment in time as never before and maybe as never again to take this knowledge, take this wisdom and change the way we do things. We have to. We have to shift our consumption of the natural world into making peace with nature making peace among ourselves. This is the moment to secure for the kids coming along whether they are the young birds who are taking off on their own voyages or whether they its our own children. We have a chance to get it right.”
Wisdom’s chick has been named Kūkini, meaning messenger, and her mate has been named Akeakamai, or “lover of Wisdom.” Kūkini is healthy as both parents are working hard to forage for food at sea and bring it back to the nest.