It's Behind You!

laysan albatross take-off

That's the cry that goes up in pantomime when the villain sneaks up on the hero or heroine, the audience can see what's happening but the hero can't. This must be what it feels like to be a young laysan albatross. Lurking beneath the waves, out of sight, is a deadly foe - a tiger shark.

laysan albatross take-off

The young birds do not have the skill to take off from the surface of the water, which as you can see from these series of still images, taken from NHNZ Images video, is not an easy task for such a large bird as an adult albatross.

laysan albatross take-off

There's considerable wing flapping, and running along the surface of the water before final take-off.

tiger shark preys on laysan albatross

The plumage of young birds is not quite so water-proof, and once they land of the sea surface they can quickly become bedraggled.

tiger shark preys on laysan albatross

Crash-landings in the sea are quite common amongst the youngsters just learning to fly.

tiger shark preys on laysan albatross

They are then unable to take-off, and become a sitting target for tiger sharks patrolling the shallow coastal waters.

tiger shark preys on laysan albatross

It only takes a few seconds for the shark to grab its victim, pull it under and eat it.

Tiger shark preys on laysan albatross

Tiger sharks are voracious hunters. Each summer the sharks congregate just as the young birds fledge from their Hawaiian nesting grounds.