Skip to main content

Photos: Midway Atoll Socked by Japan Tsunami

Albatross Trapped Debris

albatross-trapped-debris-110315-02

(Image credit: Pete Leary/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)

As the massive tsunami generated by Friday's 9.0-magnitude earthquake made its way across the Pacific Ocean from Japan, it swept across Midway Atoll, covering the island in debris. Midway lies near the northwestern end of the Hawaiian Islands, about one third of the way between Honolulu and Tokyo.

The Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the North Pacific Ocean is famous for its Laysan albatross population. The island is home to the oldest known wild bird in the United States, a Laysan albatross named Wisdom. The 60-year-old bird was spotted a few weeks ago with a chick at Midway, the FWS announced last week (March 8).

Eastern Island Damage

eastern-island-damage-110315-02

(Image credit: Pete Leary/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)

Midway is a very different place after the tsunami, as these pictures show. The tsunami overran Midway, possibly washing away tens of thousand of the island's chicks, wrote Pete Leary of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), on his blog.

Scientists on the island are still sorting through the debris to determine the extent of the damage.

Eastern Island Beach

eastern-island-beach-110315-02

(Image credit: Pete Leary/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)

A washed over area of the beach on Eastern Island.

Eastern Island Albatross

eastern-island-albatross-110315-02

(Image credit: Pete Leary/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)

Albatross adults and chicks check out a washed over area of Eastern Island.

Albatross Chick Trapped

albatross-chick-trapped-110315-02

(Image credit: Pete Leary/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)

A Laysan albatross chick that was found stuck in tsunami debris.

Albatross Chicks

albatross-chicks-110315-02

(Image credit: Pete Leary/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)

A black-footed albatross chick and a short-tailed albatross chick next to a short-tailed albatross decoy on Eastern Island.

Albatross Adult Trapped

albatross-adult-trapped-110315-02

(Image credit: Pete Leary/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)

This Laysan albatross chick was only inches away from being covered by debris. The adult wasn't so lucky.

Albatross Debris Island

albatross-debris-island-110315-02

(Image credit: Pete Leary/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)

Injured birds rest on a floating island of debris in the lagoon at Midway Atoll.

Albatross Chick Survivors

albatross-chick-survivors-110315-02

(Image credit: Pete Leary/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)

Laysan albatross chicks that survived on Midway.

Bonin Petrel Trapped Mud

bonin-petrel-trapped-mud-110315-02

(Image credit: Pete Leary/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)

A Bonin petrel is half buried after the tsunami. The bird was rescued shortly after this picture was taken.

Albatross Chick Wet

albatross-chick-wet-110315

(Image credit: Pete Leary/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)

This Laysan albatross chick was washed over by the tsunami, but survived.