On 30 July 2013, fishermen from the Kamchatka-based Tikhbe Company noticed a “large seabird” in a small bay near the mouth of the Navyrinbayam River (Olyutorskii Bay, Bering Sea, along the Koryak Highlands, approx. geographic coordinates: 60° 28 N, 167° 42 E). The bird was swimming about 350-500 m from shore, was visibly unhealthy, and died soon after being brought upon the ship’s deck. The fishermen noticed that the bird had a white plastic band on one leg bearing the number “424,” and a metal band with the inscription “Kankyosho Tokyo Japan 13 C 8056” on the other leg. The fishermen photographed the bird and these leg bands using a camera phone, and passed these images along to me.
Despite the poor quality of the photographs it was easy to identify this bird as an immature short-tailed albatross. The behavioral details conveyed by the fishermen suggested that this bird was really quite sick—and an albatross so close to shore is certainly unusual.
We solicited information from our Japanese colleagues at the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology in Tokyo (Dr. Tomohiro Deguchi and Keiko Yoshiyasu), who reported that this short-tailed albatross was banded on 28 February, 2013, at the age of about 2 months at a new colony on Tori-Shima in the Izu Islands (Tokyo Prefecture, Japan; approx. geographical coordinates 300 29’ N and 1400 18’ E).
Thus, an immature short-tailed albatross died off the coast of the Koryak Highlands at the age of about 7 months. Prior to that, it had migrated ~5,000 km north after leaving the colony. Shuntov (1998) reports that the Bering Sea is a common area for this species to wander in the summer months, and there are confirmed sightings of the species directly along the Olyutorskii coast (Artyukhin, 2006).