Laysan Albatross | Maui Ocean Center

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Laysan Albatross

One of the largest seabirds in the world, the Laysan albatross has a wingspan that can reach up to 6-feet long. As a result, they have a largely pelagic lifestyle, meaning they primarily live or spend most of their time at sea and are adapted for flying long distances over water in search of food or suitable breeding grounds. Laysan albatross have a largely white body with darker grey-brown wings. That grey-brown also extends to their middle-back and tip of their tail. A distinct black “brow” and powdered grey cheeks make the Layson unique compared to other albatross species.


Albatross can live more than 50 years. Scientists have been monitoring a banded Laysan albatross on Midway named Wisdom, who is over 65 years old and still laying eggs.

Feeding and Habitat

Laysan albatross nest on the islands of Laysan and Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. As mentioned before, they have a predominantly pelagic lifestyle and spend most of their time at sea except for when breeding. There are an estimated 600,000 breeding pairs found in the Hawaiian Islands, and most individuals mate for life. They nest in sandy or grassy lowlands, creating a tall mound of mud, sticks, and grasses. 


They are adept at capturing their prey by swooping down to the surface and catching it mid-flight, or as it sits on top of the water. Their excellent night vision makes them feared nocturnal hunters. Their diet consists of mostly squid, flying fish, and crustaceans.


Conservation Efforts

Laysan albatross have historically faced many threats including entanglement and choking on marine debris, unsustainable fishing practices (particularly longline fishing), and introduced predators at nesting colonies (like rats and feral cats). 


Conservation efforts focus on habitat protection, education, and collaboration with the fishing industry to develop and utilize more sustainable fishing methods (like line flags & hook sinkers), and global public outreach about the dangers of marine debris and the importance of promoting more sustainable waste disposal methods and reducing plastic use.

hawaiian Name


Scientific Name

Phoebastria Immutabilis


Near Threatened



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