Thousands of seabirds have been killed when the tsunami generated by last week’s massive earthquake off Japan flooded a remote atoll near Hawaii. At least 1,000 adult and adolescent Laysan albatross, along with thousands of chicks, perished as waves reaching 5ft-tall rolled over the low-lying Midway islands about four hours after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck on Friday.
Many drowned or were buried under debris, said Barry W. Stieglitz, the project leader for the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuges.
The white-and-black feathered Laysan albatross is not in danger of becoming extinct.
About one million of the birds live at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge about 1,300 miles north-west of Honolulu, making it the largest Laysan albatross colony in the world.
But Mr Stieglitz said the deaths could account for a significant share of Laysan albatross chicks hatched during the current season.
‘We may see just a slight decline in breeding birds next year, next year and the year after that,’ he said.