LIHUE — They made it without a single crack.
A U.S. Navy C-26 airplane took off from Kauai’s Pacific Missile Range Facility Wednesday morning on a scheduled, weekly mission to Oahu with some unusual cargo — 44 Laysan albatross eggs destined for a new home at the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge in Kahuku.
“The flight went smoothly,” said Eric VanderWerf, a wildlife biologist and co-owner of Pacific Rim Conservation. “We got all of the eggs over to Oahu, no problem.”
In a first-of-its-kind relocation, the Navy, PRC and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are attempting to establish a new Laysan albatross colony on the northern coast of Oahu from eggs collected at PMRF that were unable to be placed with foster albatross parents on Kauai.
After arriving Wednesday, the eggs were transported to the PRC office and double checked to ensure they made it safely — which they all did, the Navy said in a release. They will remain in incubators until they hatch in six to eight weeks, before being raised at the James Campbell refuge.
The albatrosses at PMRF nest near an active runway, where they pose a collision hazard that puts aircraft and crews at risk, due to the birds’ large 6- to 7-foot wingspan and their habit of circling over the nesting area, the Navy said.
Each year, the Navy relocates all albatross eggs and adults from the air safety zone to prevent collisions.