Carmel Magazine

Spring-Summer 2019

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these remarkable birds, who soar effortlessly and spectac- ularly, aloft for weeks on end as they travel across the northern Pacific Ocean, from Costa Rica to the Aleutian Islands and the Bering Sea. The Laysan is a "smaller" species, with a wingspan of 6 feet, but it's adept at tucking in those wings and diving to great depths in search of food. Following a behind-the- scenes Aquarium donor tour, Loomis traveled to Kauai, Hawaii, to observe wild albatross up close. "The more I learned about these amazing birds, the more motivated I became to donate my time and energy to helping breeding populations recover," she says. Albatross face long odds. Midway represents for them a predator-free safe haven, yet mankind's misdeeds still pose a threat, from rising sea levels and plastic pollution, to deadly lead paint flecks from old windswept buildings that sprouted after the U.S. mili- tary planted its flag on the strategic atoll. (From June 4- 6, 1944, U.S. forces defeated the Japanese in the Battle of Midway, a turning point in World War II.) Those echoes of history and what Loomis called "rusted remnants of war" intensified an emotionally and physically taxing six-day work week. Volunteers got half Sunday off, and Loomis spent it sketching, sleeping, or picking up plastic along the beach. At night, volunteers would swap life stories, or hang out at the former military bowling alley from the 1950s (four lanes still work) or play bingo. "A time warp," she says. Artwork adorns former U.S. military barracks that now house volunteers. Below: A female short-tailed albatross named Geraldine successfully raised a chick on Midway, great news for those protecting one of the world's most endangered birds. C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2 0 1 9 179 Photos: Zeke Smith Photo: Jan Loomis

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