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At this moment on Midway Atoll, the juvenile albatrosses are in the throes of their courtship dances. Their nonstop rave is the main source of all the buoyant motion and noise on the island as they seek a bond before flying out to sea to feed for the remainder of the summer. In this poem I’ve attempted to capture the sights and sounds of this ecstatic dancing season.
Courtship Medley à la Albatross
It begins with a prance dance,
a tiptoe head-bob waddle
and a wing fluff. Then, fake a preen,
shake out a sideways
a chair-leg-floor-scrape scream,
and sidle into a crooked raga
with fast and furious tabla drums,
and applause, applause, wait –
it’s a drill-hammer fixing
a squeaky door behind the beak,
a flanking feather-grab tease
to a show of chocolate origami wings,
quick switcheroo to a bass kazoo,
throw the head up high, trumpet
to blow the clouds from the sky,
it’s a match, it’s a mate, a pact
to hatch an egg, raise a chick,
then bid adieu until next season,
dancing days forever over
in favor of a lifelong bond.
~Victoria Sloan Jordan
It’s the mid-point of our current journey and Chris Jordan checks in from an albatross-covered field on Midway Atoll to share the abundant sights and sounds, as well as the realization that all albatross chicks here likely have plastic in their bellies.
Artist Chris Jordan checks in from Midway Island as he discovers a tiny plastic-filled albatross chick who died in his nest.
Chris Jordan and Jan Vozenilek share their experiences on Midway with students at Penticton Secondary School in British Columbia – Canada, and announce that Emily Chartrand, a grade 11 student, will be joining the expedition on their next journey to Midway Atoll in March 2011.
Working with Emily, the Midway Team is expanding its education outreach program, to connect with high school students in Canada and the United States. Starting on Sunday March 20th, Emily will be providing daily reports on her blog: