Sanctuary Nomination Process

Pacific Islands Region

Black-footed Albatross, an ambassador for ocean connectivity:
Linking research and education

The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries' (ONMS) Pacific Islands Region and the West Coast Region collaborated on a project that ranged from California at the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary to the remote northwestern Hawaiian atolls of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM). The project focused on the black-footed albatross (BFAL), a seabird that travels thousands of miles to feed and breed.

The BFAL (Phoebastria nigripes) nests in colonies on the furthest reaches of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Kure Atoll, which is 2,500 miles from the main Hawaiian islands and 5,000 miles from the BFAL's feeding grounds off central California. albatross flyingIn a multi-year study supported by federal, state and non-government organization partners, BFALs carrying satellite tags were tracked in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009. The collected data were in need of analysis that would highlight the variety of ocean habitats visited by the tagged BFALs, as well as the existing ONMS sites and the international exclusive economic zones. Joining with Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge, a non-profit organization that worked on the initial tracking, the sanctuary developed a multi-pronged project that would not only interpret the scientific information, but would use that information to create education and outreach products.

Data analysis was completed in 2012. The final report summarizing the black-footed albatross tracking data analysis submitted to NOAA by Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge can be downloaded here:

      Click here for a larger map.
Synthesis of Habitat Use by Black-footed Albatross tracked from Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (2004 - 2008) and Kure Atoll Seabird Sanctuary (2008). (pdf). In addition, the West Coast Region hosts the Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network (SIMoN, and content has been developed for that website, which can be viewed here.

Two education products were completed. An article was submitted to Current: the Journal of Marine Education, and is in press.

A five-unit activity package titled: Winged Ambassadors - Ocean Literacy through the Eyes of Albatross is now available free online. Albatrosses, charismatic and threatened seabirds, are ambassadors for a clean ocean. They traverse vast oceanic regions searching for floating food. Along their journeys, they ingest plastic trash and feed it to their chicks. These five lessons use inquiry-based science instruction, aligned to standards for grades 6-8 with extensions for grades 9-12.

Download the activity package for free at Papahānaumokuākea Education or here.

The activity package was produced by Oikonos - Ecosystem Knowledge and Meghan Marerro in collaboration with Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary and the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument with funding from NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Pacific Islands region, and West Coast region.

For more information, contact Andy Collins at 808-694-3922 at the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument or email him at

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