Albatrosses “divorce” due to climate change

Via Flickr.

By Eleanor Hildebrandt | November 30, 2021

Albatrosses, large seabirds that are known for mating for life, are “divorcing” because of global warming according to a new study conducted by New Zealand’s Royal Society.

The study looked at thousands of breeding pairs. The findings discovered show birds are more likely to divorce when the oceans are warmest. When the ocean is at warmer temperatures in the summer, divorce rates jump nearly 5 percent. The overall rates still remain under 10 percent, but the increase of pairs separating limits fertility of the birds and their reproduction. With the oceans warming more due to climate change, these divorce rates are likely to continue increasing.

Regardless of divorce rates and fewer birds reproducing, albatrosses have been endangered for years. 22 subspecies of the bird are being threatened with extinction as of 2013. Other concerns include oil spills, loss of habitat, and climate change. The species has the largest wingspan of any bird, and they drink salt water. Many albatrosses feed on squid and other marine wildlife, according to the Pacific Beach Coalition. They are essential to the food chain.

According to the New Zealand’s Royal Society, the stress of these warmer waters is disrupting the balance of the species, which can lead to faster extinction. Another reason for potential extinction is the decline in fish populations, leaving the birds with fewer food sources.

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