Short-tailed Albatross

Diomedea albatrus

This formerly common species of large albatross was historically often found near shore in Alaska. The world’s population of this magnificent species dipped very close to zero in the middle of the 20 th century. Since then, with protection of the only known breeding colony on Torishima Island, near Japan, the population has begun a slow increase. The best place to see this species away from their remote breeding grounds is just north of the western Aleutians in the Bering Sea. Research vessels, fishing ships and cruise lines encounter this species with some regularity. As far as the Pribilof Islands are concerned there are no recent records of this species from shore, but visiting fishing ships and research vessels do occasionally report Short-tailed Albatrosses from within 60 miles of the island. In 2004 local fisherman reported an adult a mere 6 miles off Northeast Point. It is conceivable that with prolonged seawatches, and a lot of luck one of these large albatrosses might be spotted from shore. To separate this species from the more common Laysan Albatross look for (in all ages) the large bright pink bill and overall larger size. Adult Short-tailed Albatross will show a golden head. Juvenile and young Short-taileds are all dark, resembling oversized, pink-billed Black-footed Albatross. It is worth noting that both Laysan and Black-footed Albatross have been seen from shore in the last decade.