The world's oldest known Laysan albatross not only has returned to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge for the first time this breeding season, she has laid an egg, which is impressive considering that the seabird is at least 61 years old.
Wisdom, who was sighted incubating her egg on Dec. 1, made headlines last March by surviving a tsunami that washed over parts of the mid-Pacific atoll in the aftermath of the major earthquakes that struck Japan.
Wisdom was banded in 1956 in the same location, behind the Bravo Barracks, at an estimated minimum age of 5 years old.
While Wisdom is the oldest known Laysan albatross, she may not be not the oldest known albatross. A northern royal albatross banded on New Zealand's South Island is also believed to be 61-plus.
Midway boasts the world's largest nesting population of Laysan albatrosses, more than 450,000 breeding pairs. The birds spend months feeding at sea during the non-breeding period (July through October) and prey on squid, fish, small crustaceans, flying fish eggs and practically anything on the surface that they consider edible.
Unfortunately, many ingest plastic and Wisdom's longevity is all the more surprising considering how much plastic pollution is floating in the Pacific. She is one tough, old bird.
Image showing Wisdom with her new egg is courtesy of Pete Leary / U.S Fish & Wildlife Service