Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Regular visitors to ACAP Latest News will have noticed from this year an irregular series of postings that deal with poetry that has an albatross or a petrel theme.

Aside from the intrinsic interest of the verses the series has the serious aim of bringing the Albatross and Petrel Agreement to the attention of a wider audience, which, it is hoped, will include individuals who may not otherwise be aware of the serious conservation issues the 29 ACAP-listed species face.

To date, postings have covered poems in all three official ACAP languages:  by Roy Campbell, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) in English, by Charles Baudelaire in French and by Pablo Neruda and Eduardo Langagne in Spanish.

The following lines are in the Hawaiian language and celebrate the long life of a now 61-year old Laysan Albatross or Mōlī Phoebetria immutabilis, known as Wisdom.

Kaha ka mōlī maliʻu i ka laʻi
Holo mālie i ke ao hoʻomakua
He makua paʻamua i ke one neʻineʻi
I ō a i ʻaneʻi i ka moana nui

The wise mōlī soars in the calm
travelling serenely in the hoʻomakua sky.
A reverent parent on the low-lying sands
far and wide in the great ocean

"Hoʻomakua is one of the traditional ways of describing a level of sky, one above the surface of the earth, but not too lofty". It is one of the levels in which birds such as mōlī would fly."

Wisdom with her 2010/11 season's chick
Photograph by John Klavitter

With grateful thanks to Sam ‘Ohu Gon III of The Nature Conservancy in Hawaii for permission to post his mele or oli (a chant or song), and its translation, produced in honour of Wisdom A. Laysan Albatross of the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, and to Wisdom herself for making the connection.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 6 December 2011