Ten short-tailed albatross chicks will be relocated in February from the birds’ breeding ground on Torishima island, south of Tokyo, to Mukojima island in the Ogasawara island chain–about 300 kilometers away–in an attempt to protect the endangered species from dangers such as a volcanic eruption, an Environment Ministry investigative commission has formally decided.
The ministry and other bodies carried out an experiment earlier this year in which 10 black-footed albatross chicks–a closely related species with a larger population–were moved to Mukojima to see what risk would be involved in relocating the short-tailed albatross chicks. Nine of the 10 chicks left their nest safely, prompting to the government to make its final decision.
If the relocation is successful, 10 chicks a year will be taken to the island by helicopter for the next five years.
Three experts from the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology will be permanently stationed on the island and will artificially feed the chicks.
Only chicks that are about 40 days old will be relocated as they cannot remember their birthplace at this age–an important point as short-tailed albatross instinctively want to return to the island where they were raised.
Short-tailed albatross decoys will be placed on Mukojima and their calls will be broadcast in an attempt to have the chicks recognize the island as their birthplace.
The bird is a government-designated special natural monument.