While we’re all eagerly awaiting the likely split of Shy Albatross by the AOU in their forthcoming Check-list supplemental, it’s worth reviewing the status of the species in ABA Area waters. The three “Shy” Albatrosses are represented by eight records from California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. Of those states, California is the only one with more than one subspecies represented, having records of two of the three types – one record of the cauta/steadi (White-capped Albatross) and two of eremita (Chatham Albatross).
Well, now it looks like they’ve finally completed the set today (7/26), as on a pelagic boat out of Half Moon Bay Alvaro Jaramillo, of Alvaro’s Adventures, spotted a subadult salvini Shy Albatross, soon to be Salvin’s Albatross. It was photographed by a number of participants on his and the soon-to-arrive Debi Shearwater boat working nearby waters. Pending acceptance-and the likely split of Shy Albatross-this is a first record for California, a first for the lower 48 and a second record of the subspecies for the ABA Area.
Salvin’s Albatross is one of a number of subspecies of Shy Albatross (as it’s still known on the ABA Checklist) considered by most authorities to be a species in its own right. It is almost exclusively of the southern oceans, nesting primarily on the Bounty Islands south of New Zealand. There is one previous record for the ABA Area, a subadult bird photographed near Kasotochi Island in the western Aleutians, Alaska, in August 2003. There is also a record from Hawaii in April of that same year.
Prior to this sighting, those two represented the only records for the Northern Hemisphere.