Long-term studies at Bird Island, South Georgia, show that numbers of wandering, black-browed and grey-headed albatrosses have been decreasing since the late 1970s. To determine the status of the total South Georgia population, all known colonies were censused in 2003/2004 using a combination of yacht-based digital photography and ground counts. The breeding population estimates from this census are 1,553 pairs of wandering albatross, 74,296 pairs of black-browed albatross and 47,674 pairs of grey-headed albatross. A 30% decline since 1984 was recorded for wandering albatross, and comparison of a sample of black-browed and grey-headed albatross colonies on the mainland of South Georgia photo-censused in both 1985/1986 and 2003/2004 indicates similarly substantial population declines. Unless these decreases can be halted or reversed, doubt will exist as to the long-term viability of these species of albatross at South Georgia.
BRYAN FAUST/Herald photoThe University of Wisconsin softball team simply did not want to stop playing at Goodman Diamond Wednesday evening. The Badgers went to extra innings against the University of Illinois-Chicago before winning 8-7 in a game that lasted three hours and 12 minutes.Just when it looked like the vaunted UW seniors would be upstaged in their final game at Goodman Diamond by the upstart sophomores, yesterday’s hero, senior Natalie Phillips, came up with the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the ninth inning. Her sharp line drive to left field scored senior Ana Miller from second base.“Obviously it was a big win, and a win is a win,” head coach Karen Gallagher said. “On the other hand, we let them back into the ballgame. I just think at this point of the season, we should be sealing the coffin, closing the door and not giving up three-run leads in the seventh inning.”It looked as if Wisconsin had the game in hand, leading 6-3 heading into the seventh, but the Flames rallied and scored three runs to tie the game at six in the 11th hour.After pitching well through the game’s first six innings, sophomore Eden Brock gave up a pair of singles to open the seventh. Brock was lifted by Gallagher in favor of senior Katie Layne, who was looking to capture her fourth save of the season. Layne was unable to find the strike zone, however, and, after giving up a pair of singles, she hit the next batter, setting the stage for the most pressure-packed situation in softball. With the bases loaded and two outs, clinging to a 6-5 lead, Layne had run the count full against Illinois-Chicago second baseman Nikki Rogers. But the senior threw ball four, walking in the tying run and forcing Gallagher to go back to Brock, who recorded the final out of the inning.“We have to make the other team earn it,” Gallagher said. “I can live with hits by the other team, but walks, hit batters. C’mon, we have to make them earn it.”The teams traded runs in the eighth inning, with Wisconsin extending the game on senior catcher Boo Gillette’s second RBI of the game, setting up the ninth-inning glory for Phillips.With all of the focus on the six UW seniors playing their last home game, sophomore infielder Athena Vasquez stole the show early, driving in three runs and scoring another.In her first two seasons as a Badger, Vasquez has made a name for herself mainly through her work with the glove, being named Wisconsin’s Defensive Player of the Year last season and playing almost every infield defensive position during the course of the season. Yesterday, however, was a different story — Vasquez had two of the biggest hits of the night, smashing a lead-off triple that resulted in the first UW lead and a bases-loaded double that cleared the bases and looked to be the difference in the game prior to the Flames’ comeback.In the bottom of the fifth inning, Wisconsin was running out of gas. They had just seen the 2-1 lead taken in the bottom of the fourth evaporate, and they trailed 3-2. The Badgers quickly found themselves with two outs in the inning, but freshman Joey Daniels lined a double to left, and the ensuing single by senior Ana Miller allowed pinch runner Nicole Simmons to score, evening the game once again. Wisconsin went on to load the bases, setting the stage for Vasquez, who hit a laser to the left centerfield wall, scoring all the runners and giving UW a 6-3 lead. “I knew I had to get a hit because my team needed it,” Vasquez said. “I was really happy. I was like, ‘Yes! I got a hit and cleared the bases, too!’ I was really excited.”The win brought UW’s record to 28-21 (9-9 Big Ten) on the season, and continued the Badgers’ torrid streak. The team has now won 15 of its last 17 games dating back to April 18.The game began with athletic director and head football coach Barry Alvarez throwing out the ceremonial opening pitch for the UW home finale, a bona fide wild pitch that bounced far in front of the plate. The Badgers fared little better in the field, committing four errors in the game that, fortunately for UW, led to only one run. That statistic was thanks to the work of Brock, who struck out eight and allowed only one run, which was unearned, in the first four innings.Illinois-Chicago finally got to Brock in the top of the fifth, though, and retook the lead. With runners on the corners and nobody out, Brock induced a pair of short bouncers, holding the runner at third in both instances, and looked as if she might wiggle out of the jam with no runs given up. Center fielder Nicole Shepard came to the plate, however, and crushed a double deep to center field, scoring both runners and giving UIC the 3-2 advantage that they would soon relinquish to Wisconsin. The Badgers ended their home schedule with a record of 12-7, the second-most home victories at Goodman Diamond in a season. The team went 16-6 in 1999.For the seniors, the game was a bittersweet ending to their bright careers.“Everybody wants to end their career with a win and having two RBIs is nice, too, but we still have more big games this season, and we didn’t really get the job done tonight by letting them back in the game and being so inconsistent,” Gillette said.The Badgers travel to Minnesota this weekend for their final Big Ten series of the year before participating in the Big Ten tournament the following week.