The Black-footed Albatross is one of only three species of albatross that nest exclusively north of the equator. In addition to black feet, it also has a dark bill and almost entirely dark plumage. With a wingspan of about six feet, this is one of thelargest seabirds in the northern hemisphere, although one of the smaller species of albatross globally. Like other albatrosses, this species is slow to mature and has a low reproductive rate.
More than 95 percent of the world's population of Black-footed Albatross nests in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, with the single largest colony (>25,000 pairs) on Midway Atoll. All of these islands are protected, but most of them are low islets that are vulnerable to the effects of sea-level rise and increased storm intensity associated with global climate change.
Currently, though, the greatest threat to the species is the hooks of longline fishing vessels, which are responsible for drowning hundreds of birds every year. Other threats include the introduction of non-native predators to nesting islands, loss of breeding habitat to invasive plant species, and potential long-term impacts of contaminants such as pesticides that accumulate in the marine food web.
ABC continues to work with national and international partners to address the threat to Black-footed and other albatrosses posed by commercial fishing. We are also collaborating with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other partners to secure predator-free breeding habitat for this and other seabird species on islands in Hawai`i.