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Flight Path
On Male 8's second trip he did not fly straight southeast to the "foraging site".  Instead, he flew east toward Ecuador and even entered the Gulf of Guayaquil, that bay that you can see on the map.  This was not exactly open ocean travel that is typical for albatrosses, and for a few days we worried that he had gotten mixed up with a fishing boat and in fact was ON THE BOAT on the way to the Ecuadorian port city of Guayaquil!  He proved that hypothesis wrong by beginning rapid travel south, finally reaching the "foraging site" and then unhelpfully losing his transmitter. 

Why did the birds all head to the Peruvian coast?  We think it has to do with upwelling: nutrient-rich water that moves from great depth up to the surface.  Plankton plants (algae) grow like crazy in upwellings, and a food web is supported by all of these plants, and the albatrosses go for the fish and squid in these food webs.

The Peruvian coast and some other parts of the world have upwellings, and the waved albatrosses went right into the Peruvian upwelling area.   The Coastal Zone Color Scanner satellite (check Kids Using Satellites) can spot the dense concentrations of algae in upwellings.  Orange color in that satellite's pictures shows high algae concentrations.  Click here for an example of an upwelling on the African coast that is like the one on the Peruvian coast.

 

This page last updated on May 20, 1998 05:10 PM