Short-tailed albatross

Rob Suryan, Amanda Gladics

Latin name: Phoebastria albatrus

Short-tailed albatross once numbered in the millions before commercial hunting in the early 20th century nearly drove the species to extinction. While the population continues to increase, it is still less than 1% of its estimated pre-exploitation population size and breeds on only 2 of the 14 possible historical sites in the western North Pacific. In the United States, the short-tailed albatross is federally listed as an endangered species throughout its range and is protected in Japan as a national natural monument. The website listed below provides an overview of the natural history and population status of short-tailed albatross, as well as current information on their conservation and management. - Amanda Gladics

Short-tailed albatross were thought to be extinct in 1949, and although they are making a remarkable comeback, the population is still less than one percent of its historical size. With a seven-foot wingspan, short-tailed albatrosses are adapted to use ocean winds for efficient long-distance flight – one individual carrying a miniature tracking device traveled over 500,000 kilometers (over 300,000 miles) by the time it was five years old. Short-tailed albatross can live to be well over forty years old. Dr. Rob Suryan leads the international endangered species recovery team. His studies in partnership with the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology, the Ministry of Environment Japan, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have helped modify regulations to reduce albatross bycatch while also helping commercial fisheries and re-establish nesting 80 years after their extirpation on islands that have since become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. - Rob Suryan

Research website

More information


Deguchi, T., J. Jacobs, T. Harada, L. Perriman, Y. Watanabe, F. Sato, N. Nakamura, K. Ozaki, and G. Balogh. 2012. Translocation and hand-rearing techniques for establishing a colony of threatened albatross. Bird Conservation International 22:66-81.

Deguchi, T., F. Sato, M. Eda, H. Izumi, H. Suzuki, R. M. Suryan, E. W. Lance, H. Hasegawa, and K. Ozaki. 2016. Translocation and hand-rearing result in short-tailed albatrosses returning to breed in the Ogasawara Islands 80 years after extirpation. Animal Conservation:n/a-n/a.

Deguchi, T., R. M. Suryan, and K. Ozaki. 2014a. Muscle damage and behavioral consequences from prolonged handling of albatross chicks for transmitter attachment. The Journal of Wildlife Management 78:1302-1309.

Deguchi, T., R. M. Suryan, K. Ozaki, J. F. Jacobs, F. Sato, N. Nakamura, and G. R. Balogh. 2014b. Translocation and hand-rearing of the short-tailed albatross Phoebastria albatrus: early indicators of success for species conservation and island restoration. Oryx 48:195-203.

Guy, T. J., S. L. Jennings, R. M. Suryan, E. F. Melvin, M. A. Bellman, L. T. Ballance, B. A. Blackie, D. A. Croll, T. Deguchi, T. O. Geernaert, R. W. Henry, M. Hester, K. D. Hyrenbach, J. Jahncke, M. A. Kappes, K. Ozaki, J. Roletto, F. Sato, W. J. Sydeman, and J. E. Zamon. 2013. Overlap of North Pacific albatrosses with the U.S. west coast groundfish and shrimp fisheries. Fisheries Research 147:222-234.

Suryan, R. M., D. J. Anderson, S. A. Shaffer, D. D. Roby, Y. Tremblay, D. P. Costa, P. R. Sievert, F. Sato, K. Ozaki, G. R. Balogh, and N. Nakamura. 2008. Wind, waves, and wing Loading: morphological specialization may limit range expansion of endangered albatrosses. PLoS ONE 3:e4016. doi:4010.1371/journal.pone.0004016.

Suryan, R. M., K. S. Dietrich, E. F. Melvin, G. R. Balogh, F. Sato, and K. Ozaki. 2007. Migratory routes of short-tailed albatrosses: Use of exclusive economic zones of North Pacific Rim countries and spatial overlap with commercial fisheries in Alaska. Biological Conservation 137:450-460.

Suryan, R. M., and K. N. Fischer. 2010. Stable isotope analysis and satellite tracking reveal interspecific resource partitioning of nonbreeding albatrosses off Alaska. Canadian Journal of Zoology 88:299-305.

Suryan, R. M., J. A. Santora, and W. J. Sydeman. 2012. New approach for using remotely sensed chlorophyll a to identify seabird hotspots. Marine Ecology Progress Series 451:213-225.

Suryan, R. M., F. Sato, G. R. Balogh, D. K. Hyrenbach, P. R. Sievert, and K. Ozaki. 2006. Foraging destinations and marine habitat use of short-tailed albatrosses: A multi-scale approach using first-passage time analysis. Deep-Sea Research, Part II 53:370-386.

1) Setting endangered species recovery goals and priority recovery tasks

2) Translocation and hand-rearing project to re-establish a former breeding colony

3) Relaxation in use of seabird bycatch deterrents in Alaska inside waters where we helped show that albatrosses are not occurring as are few other vessel following seabirds and therefore regulations were unnecessarily applied to fisheries in inside waterways and inner Bering Sea Shelf.

4) New regulations in use of seabird bycatch deterrents in US west coast waters

5) Tracking data on albatross movements and at-sea habitat use informed impact assessment of shipping lanes, spill response, and use of chemical dispersants in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska

6) Invasive species eradication on breeding islands in Japan for short-tailed albatross reintroduction project. Short-tailed albatross reintroduction was included in successful application to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site