In zoology last week, students had the opportunity to dissect Albatross boluses. The albatross (a seabird) hunts for food in the Pacific Ocean (between Alaska and Hawaii), and anything it cannot digest (like squid beaks, fish bones, or man-made materials) remain in the bird’s crop. These contents are usually regurgitated to feed their offspring, or coughed up as a bolus. The organization Oikonos (http://oikonos.org/what-we-do/) shipped 5 albatross boluses to Mrs. Ireland and her students, at no cost, to allow students to be direct participants in ecological studies.
By analyzing the contents of the Albatross bolus, students are helping to indirectly assess the health of the Pacific Ocean and brainstorm ways they can help! As you can see from the pictures, some boluses contain mainly squid beaks (which is an indicator of good health), while others were riddled with plastic bottle caps, glass, even a jack (toy). The students’ analysis of the bolus is sent back to Oikonos as part of on-going data collection to further inform their research & conservation efforts.