Aaaand lift-off! Albatrosses like this black-footed albatross are long-distance travelers, migrating between their feeding and nesting grounds. This particular albatross was spotted in NOAA's Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary by Robert Schwemmer, our West Coast Region maritime heritage coordinator, and is special because of that little bit of green you see on its leg. That's a bird band, a small tag used to identify individual birds. Thanks to Schwemmer's zoom lens, we were able to read the number on this one and match it in the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) database.
This particular albatross was originally banded May 30, 2002 – nearly 17 years ago – when it was too young to fly. It was banded in French Frigate Shoals in what is now part of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, more than 2,700 miles away from where it was spotted in Monterey Bay! Its band can help researchers track its journey and better understand the life cycle and ecological needs of black-footed albatrosses.
If you observe a banded bird in the wild, you can report it. Learn more about this albatross sighting
(Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA)