Protecting the Albatross


A Wandering albatross flying in Southern Ocean
By Lieutenant Elizabeth Crapo, NOAA Corps: NOAA Photo Library (anim0675 Uploaded by Snowmanradio) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Liz Waid and Nick Page tell about efforts to save a large sea bird - the albatross.

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Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Nick Page. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

The fierce storm is violently pushing the boat. Ellen fights back. She manages to gain control of the boat. She turns it into the waves and sails into the distance. A large bird flies beside her. Today’s Spotlight is on this large bird, the albatross.

Voice 2

Ellen MacArthur is a famous sailor. She has sailed in boats around the world several times. And in 2004 she set a world record for sailing around the world alone. This trip took many months. And it was very difficult. Ellen battled her way through stormy seas. She had little food to eat, and water to drink. But Ellen says that being lonely was the hardest thing. In these months, she was far from home. She only had a radio and sea birds for company. The huge albatross sea birds often chose to fly close to Ellen’s boat. She remembers looking at them. She told the BBC.

Voice 3

‘They are such graceful birds. When you see them out at sea, so far away from land, you feel you are not alone. I remember my first trip around the world. I was at the front of the boat. I looked up and a few feet away, there was an albatross. It was looking right at me. There was a communication between me and that bird. To feel that, in the middle of the ocean, when I had not seen land for weeks, it was extraordinary.”

Voice 1

The albatross birds gave Ellen hope. She believes that seeing them helped her to fight through difficult times during her around-the-world trip. But now the albatross has its own fight to win. Many kinds of albatross are now in danger of extinction. They may all die and not exist in the world anymore. Ellen MacArthur is just one person who is joining the battle to save these special birds.

Voice 2

Most albatrosses live in the South Pacific area. But some, like the Wandering Albatross, are found in the North Pacific. They mainly eat fish. And they can fly long distances without stopping.

Voice 1

There are many different kinds of albatross. The largest is the Albatross Diomedea Exulans, or Wandering Albatross. Its wingspread measures over three meters. It can weigh nearly ten kilograms. This makes it one of the largest flying birds alive today.

Voice 2

At mating time, albatrosses gather in large groups, called colonies. They do this to protect the young birds. The female bird produces a single white egg. Both male and female birds look after the egg. They will guard the egg for two or three months. They will also share the responsibility of caring for their young.

Voice 1

The albatross is so heavy that it needs a strong wind to fly. So in calm weather sailors do not usually see the albatross in the sky. Many years ago sailors thought that albatrosses controlled the wind.

Voice 2

For this reason, sailors considered it very back luck to kill an albatross. Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote a famous poem called ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. In this poem crew members on a sailing ship punished a sailor for killing an albatross. They made him wear the dead bird around his neck.

Voice 1

Because of this poem people use the word ‘albatross’ to describe guilt. People may say to one another, “He is guilty - he looks as if he has an albatross around his neck.”

Voice 2

But today, albatross birds are facing a serious threat. This threat to albatrosses comes mainly from the fishing industry. In particular, it comes from longline fishing. The aim of longline fishing is to catch tuna fish. Fishermen get a lot of money for this kind of fish. Longline fishing involves putting out a long line of metal fishing hooks. Each hook is baited - it has food on the end. Fish eat the food and swallow the hooks. Then, they are caught. Longlines may stretch for over 120 kilometres. They contain thousands of hooks.

Voice 1

It is a very effective way of fishing. But it also creates great dangers to birds like the albatross. Experts have observed that the albatrosses fly thousands of kilometres every year to their mating area. Here the birds produce and raise their young. But during their long travels they have to eat. They catch fish. The long fishing lines float close to the surface of the water. When the albatrosses dive into the water for fish they become caught in the longlines. They either die from their injuries or drown. Experts estimate that over 100,000 albatrosses die this way every year.

Voice 2

In the United Kingdom, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is working to help the albatross. The RSPB says that simple changes in the way people fish can help save the birds. The RSPB has set up a group called ‘Operation Ocean Task Force’. This group will help train fishermen in new fishing methods. Many of the ideas are easy. They do not cost a lot of money. For example, attaching weights to the long fishing lines will help them to sink. This will help stop the birds from becoming trapped. And if the correct weights are used, the fishermen will still catch their tuna.

Voice 1

Many important and famous people are supporting the RSPB, including Ellen MacArthur. At an event for the albatross, Prince Charles, from the United Kingdom, said:

Voice 4

“To me the problems caused to albatrosses may be the biggest test for mankind. Are we serious about looking after our world? Are we able to co-exist on this planet with other creatures?”

Voice 2

The RSPB is not alone in its struggle to save albatrosses. Many countries across the world also want to help. Leaders from 13 different countries have signed an agreement. It is called the ‘Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels’ or A-CAP. A-CAP members do research projects to save the birds. They have agreed to protect the colonies of young birds. A-CAP members have also agreed to work with the fishing industry. They have agreed to develop new ideas for fishing that are safe for birds.

Voice 1

Ellen MacArthur supports the work of A-CAP. She says that losing the albatross bird would be tragic. She says:

Voice 3

“Albatrosses live in the middle of nowhere - they do not affect man, but man is affecting them. I would be really sad, and so would many other people, if the albatross disappeared.”

Voice 2

The writer of today’s programme was Elizabeth Lickiss. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. The programme is called ‘Protecting the Albatross’.

Voice 1

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Do you enjoy sea birds? Does your government work to protect them?

Comments


Julie Ppark's avatar
Julie Ppark
said on November 28, 2011

I’m so sad to see and know that the birds are being threatened by the mankind’s technologies and ambitions. ã… ã… 

Avatar Spotlight
Rain Bows
said on February 06, 2013

Thanks for the program,

I am glad there is people that cares about our environment and species.
I don’t know if the albatross do exist in my country, but ,y city is the “Capital of tuna”, hopefully we are part of the agreement for taking care of the albatross existence.

Greetings,
Manta-Ecuador.

Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on February 06, 2013

Care the nature is the homework of all us.

Dzung.vn's avatar
Dzung.vn
said on February 06, 2013

It’s very interesting about this bird. I can say that and I like the way them share the responsibility of caring their baby birds. their action as human and there are also one thing very interesting to me but I didn’t know before. that is they access a wingspread measuring over three meters and their weight is nearly ten kilograms. thank to spotlight i get this valuable information. it’s great! thank you so much! go ahead please!

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Honneur
said on July 24, 2018

I like every birds. There are lots of them which comes to my office window to have some food and drink some water I put for them. Even vultures, I admire their majestic flying in larges circles in the blue sky. This flying seems to me as a superb kind of freedom. In my country any act against animals are considered enviromental crime, which can be punished rigorously.

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kenhieuloilam
said on July 26, 2018

Human activities affect the environment. Human activities affect the ecosystem. Each animal species plays a particular part in the ecological balance. Animal species need the natural environment to exist. We develop life and we protect the environment. We develop life and we protect the ecosystem. Nature is a precious property. Nature is an invaluable property. Human activities affect the environment. Human activities affect the ecosystem. We protect beautiful good nature. We protect beautiful good life on the earth.

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Dela
said on July 28, 2018

No doubt, all different kinds of animals, birds, plants on our planet are worth protecting, people should be responsible for its coservation for future generations.
The graceful large birds such as an albatross represent any ‘‘sea guard’‘, they are threatened highly with the climate changes, sea pollution just as decreasing fish amount too.
By all means, people have to strive to rescue these precious irreplaceable creatures from possible total extinction in near future!
Thanks Spotlight for sharing such interesting, important topic!
Greetings!