Two Laysan Albatross stand beak-to-beak on a grassy patch of land on a tiny island in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, Hawaii. The bird on the left quickly “dabs” before both wail and then the real moves come out. Both dip their long white-feathery necks up and down and then touch beaks. “No, no, no, you can’t touch me,” gestures the dancer on the right.
This dance is a mating ritual. The performance includes all the dipping, head-shaking, mooing and beak rattling in the video. The Laysan variety of albatross, which breeds in northwestern Hawaiian, knows 25 of these cool movements.
Many of the islands where the albatross live form the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, which is now the largest protected place on Earth. President Barack Obama recently announced that the marine sanctuary would quadruple in size. It is 582,578 square miles of some of the most varied marine and land-faring species in the world. Around a quarter of its inhabitants are unique to the area.
The news gives these albatrosses an actual reason to dance in the knowledge their special home is cared for. The Laysan was poached at the beginning of the 20th century, and conservation authorities still consider it a vulnerable species.
The video ends with more sophisticated grooves. The bird on the right gets in a “dab” but this is returned by the opponent who points to the sky in triumphant repose.
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