The Plight Of The Albatross

Gough Island, lies far out in the Atlantic Ocean, it's nearest neighbor is Tristan da Cunha - itself the world's remotest inhabited island.

Gough is an important sea bird colony and hosts one of the world's largest albatross breeding grounds.

Conservationists have recently reported aggressive groups of unusually large and violent human-introduced house mice which have been posing a problem for the breeding grounds: The mice are eating alive defenseless albatross chicks sitting on their nests.

The chicks, described as "big spherical balls of fat covered in down", have no defense mechanism against the mice. The attacker weighs about 50 grams, the victim can weigh 10-12 kilos.

The albatross faces a perilous future. Not only are the chicks been devoured alive, but other factors such as line fishing and ingestion of plastic floatsam are also causing their wholesale destruction. Of the 21 species of albatross, 19 are threatened with extinction.

Many have admired these majestic birds. They can soar for miles, for days without flapping their wings, the wingspan of a wandering albatross can reach 11 feet, all species of albatross mate for life - and an albatross can live for 60 years. The author of these words grieves at their bloody slaughter and curses his fellow man for the terrible harm wrought upon a species that has never caused humans even the slightest danger.

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