UPDATED: Standing tall: albatross statues and memorials around the World

The series of occasional articles in ACAP Latest News on albatrosses and petrels in art and culture continues with a look at albatross statues and memorials.  I know of only three such, two of which I have visited.

Photograph by John  Cooper, 18 August 2011

This statue of a Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata stands near the public jetty in the town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador.   The poem on its plaque reads:

El mar es nuestra vida

Recibimos nuestro bienestar de las olas y
corrientes caprichosas que rodean las islas.

Fragil como un nino may que cuidar cada
paso que nose rompa loque es bello fructuoso
y el alma de nuestra inspiracion

Yo como tu ave magnifica tengo que vivir
entre los limites naturales parque en el tiempo
todo lo demas se va gastando.

Gracias por vivir entre ustedes
Islas, fauna, flora de Galapagos.

Hugo Andrade Serrano
16 de Febrero de 1995

The sea is our life

We receive our wellbeing from the wilful waves
and currents which surround the islands

As fragile as a child, we must be careful of every step
so as not to break that which is beautiful, bountiful
and the soul of our inspiration

I as yourself, magical bird, must live
within the limits of nature because in time
all else weathers.

Thank you for living among you
Islands, fauna, flora of Galapagos.

Translation by Andrea Angel

Photograph by Lindsay Young

In the North Pacific this wooden statue of a Laysan Albatross or "gooney" P. immutabilis standing over its egg resides alongside Nimitz Avenue near Midway Mall on Sand Island, part of the USA's  Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.

Photograph from U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The statue was carved in 1972 from a 30-foot [9-m] mahogany log by a navy dentist, Lieutenant Commander Robert C. Cook, who was stationed on Midway.  The 12-foot [4-m] bird now forms part of the island's Navy Memorial which was erected in 1995 to commemorate the defenders of the island during the WWII Battle of Midway in June 1942.

UPDATE:  Sadly the Laysan Albatross statue is no longer standing!  This news from John Klavitter, Midway's Deputy Wildlife Refuge Manager:

 "The statue succumbed to termites last year and had to be temporarily removed from the site near the Navy Memorial here at Midway.  The Friends of Midway Atoll NWR [FOMA] is hoping to raise money to fabricate a new one."



In addition to these two reasonably life-like statues, a more stylistic silhouetted albatross in flight stands seven metres high on a hill top 50 m above sea level on Isla de Hornos near Cape Horn in Chile.  The steel Monumento Cabo de Hornos (Cape Horn Memorial) was made by the sculptor José Balcells and was inaugurated in December 1992.  It was erected through the initiative of the Chilean Section of the Brotherhood of Cape Horners "in memory of the men of the sea from every nation that lost their lives fighting against the merciless forces of nature of the Southern Ocean that prevail in the vicinity of the legendary Cape Horn".


A marble plaque mounted near the statue carries the following poem:

Soy el albatros que te espera en el final del mundo.
Soy el alma olvidada de los marinos muertos
que cruzaron el Cabo de Hornos desde todos los mares de la tierra.
Pero ellos no murieron en las furiosas olas,
hoy vuelan en mis alas, hacia la eternidad,
en la última grieta de los vientos antárticos.

Sara Vial, Valparaiso, Chile, December 1992

In translation:

I, the albatross that awaits at the end of the world...
I am the forgotten soul of the sailors lost
rounding Cape Horn from all the seas of the world.
But die they did not in the fierce waves,
for today towards eternity, in my wings they soar,
in the last crevice of the Antarctic winds.

Are there any more albatross statues out there?

With thanks to Andrea Angel for her translation and to Lindsay Young for her photograph of the Midway gooney.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 22 December 2011, updated 24 December 2012

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

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