Did You Know

• Procellariiforms smell really bad. Experts attribute this smell to the oil in the birds' stomachs. Giant petrels are nicknamed "stinkers" because of the intensity of their odor.

• Some seafarers believed albatrosses were good omens and that killing one would bring bad luck.

• Other fishermen considered it bad luck to see an albatross.

• Folklore has it that procellariiforms are the embodiment of the souls of cruel sea captains or drowned sailors, destined to wander the seas for all eternity.

• Albatrosses are well known for being able to follow ships for thousands of miles (kilometers).

• Despite the superstition that to kill an albatross would bring bad luck, sailors used albatross feet for tobacco pouches even into the late 1800s.

Twenty-three of the 108 species are threatened with extinction. One species, the Guadalupe storm-petrel, has become extinct since 1600. The primary threat is the introduction of predators to the breeding islands.

Prior to 1991, drift-net fishing was allowed. This is a type of fishing in which large nets were cast onto the waters and then hauled in. Although drift-nets efficiently caught large numbers of fish with little effort, they also caught other wildlife, including dolphins and seabirds. Drift-net fisheries were believed to be responsible for the deaths of 500,000 seabirds every year. Despite the ban on drift-net fishing, thousands of procellariiforms are still killed by long-line fisheries, a method in which long, thick hooks are baited and cast out to sea; the hooks often get caught in the necks of albatrosses, and this method catches a lot of "trash" sea life, similar to drift-netting fisheries, and trawl, a bag-like net is carried along by a boat, catching everything in its wake. A 1991 study estimated that 44,000 albatrosses are killed in Japan each year by these methods.

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