Tagging Site: California - Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Link to Hawaii - Kure Atoll

Composite map, showing the tracks of eight Black-footed Albatross

Race Statistics Below - winner Winner of the Category

Click on Bird Name to upload individual maps
For more detailed maps and info, click link

Bird Name


Days in Race
(Learn More)
Distance Traveled
(Learn More)
Straight-Line Distance
(Learn More)
Movement Rate
(Learn More)

Albert Ross Jr.



8,166 km

4,625 km

233 km / day




14,927 km

3,152 km

229 km / day

Ibn Battuta



16,313 km

2,409 km

220 km / day

Fred Astaire



10,038 km

2,578 km

218 km / day



43 4,545 km 979 km 105 km / day




16,430 km

3,149 km

252 km / day





19,571 km

winner of the week

4,943 km

winner of the week

305 km / day

winner of the week





16,903 km

2,887 km

238 km / day

Table Last Updated: October 21

Race Completed !

Days in Race

To compare the movements of the birds tagged in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands and California, we will relate their movements to the amount of time they have been tracked. The birds at Kure Atoll will be tagged in late spring (end of May), during their last visits to feed their fledging chicks. The birds at Cordell Bank will be tagged in summer (July - August), when they have moved to their foraging grounds off central California after the breeding season.

Moreover, researchers often cannot tag all the birds from the same study site exactly on the same day due to adverse weather conditions (rain, wind) and the availability of volunteer birds. Because different birds will start the race at different times, we keep track of the number of days since they were tagged as a way to standardize their behavior. This approach will allow us to compare the distances they cover and their rates of travel.


We expect that the tagged albatross will range widely across the North Pacific Ocean, from California to Japan, and from Hawaii to the Aleutian Islands. The heading indicates the direction of a bird's movements. For example, it describes whether the bird is heading to Japan or to California, and whether the bird is following a very straight path or running loops. These qualitative descriptions will allow the visitors to the web-site to easily identify individual birds with different headings and trajectories for a closer inspection of their tracks.

Distance Traveled

Satellite tracking allows researchers to map the trajectories of the tagged albatross and to calculate the distances they have covered, as they range across the North Pacific Ocean. One of the metrics researchers use to characterize albatross ranging behavior is the total distance covered, which is the length of their entire tracks. Some birds may cover great distances without going very far from the tagging site, especially if their tracks zig-zag a lot. Can you find the hyperactive bird that has covered the largest distance traveled?

Straight-line Distance

Researchers also use the range, defined as the maximum straight-line distance the animal has traveled from the tagging site, to characterize albatross ranging behavior. This metric indicates how restricted the albatross movements are to a specific area of the ocean. some of the birds tagged off Cordell Bank, a very productive region of the central California shelf, often remain close to the tagging site for long periods of time. Can you find the homebody bird with the smallest range? How about the explorer bird with the largest range?

Movement Rate

Albatross are capable of amazing flying speeds, over 80 km per hour (50 miles per hour). Researchers calculate the movement rate of the birds by dividing the total distance covered (distance traveled ) by the amount of time they have been tracked (days in race). We will use this metric (expressed as the number of kilometers travelled per day of tracking) to quantify the movement rate of each tagged albatross. Can you find the speedy albatross with the fastest movement rate?

Links to More Albatross Tracks

ACES for Classrooms: Animals in Curriculum-based Investigations - Black-footed Albatross

The Albatross Project - Short-tailed Albatross