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Meet your winner

The albatross has won the public vote and will be representing the high seas during the United Nations treaty negotiations in New York.

The negotiations are for a new legally binding treaty to protect the biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction – the high seas. During each key stage of the process towards this treaty, crocheted creatures (amigurami) have been brought into the UN to remind delegates about what they are working to protect.

For the latest round of negotiations, the albatross won the right to represent the high seas over the anglerfish, which came second, and the silky shark. Each of these animals – along with so many others – spends much if not all of its life in the high seas and is entirely dependent on it for its existence.

The amigurami albatross will appear at the UN from 25 March when the negotiations begin. They conclude on 5 April and are scheduled to recommence in August of this year.

Find out more about the winning albatross, below, as well as the anglerfish and silky shark.

Don’t forget – the High Seas Alliance Treaty Tracker is the ideal place to follow these critical negotiations as they happen.

#OneOceanOnePlanet

Your winner: the albatross

The high seas’ lord of the sky

With a wingspan ranging from around 2 to 3.5m, albatross are born to ride the air streams created by the ocean. They live for up to 50 years, and spend most of this time in the air, completing epic journeys of up to 16,000km in a single flight. An albatross is capable of circumnavigating the globe in 46 days, and the distance it covers in a lifetime will be equivalent to accomplishing this feat many times over.

Every two years, albatross take to land to raise their young. They mate for life and when it is time to breed they gather in colonies on remote islands where they dance to find their life-mate. Once they are nesting, they form orderly queues on island runways to take off and land on fishing expeditions. It takes 10 months for them to raise their young.

There are 22 varieties of albatross, of which three are listed as critically endangered, five endangered, seven near threatened and seven as vulnerable by the IUCN. They are found in every part of the ocean except the North Atlantic, where they are now extinct.

No other non-aquatic creature spends as much time on the high seas. They are the product of the currents, storms and wind patterns of the high seas, and their future is utterly dependent on the health of the ocean.

Facts

  • Lives for up to 50 years
  • Travels up to 16,000km in a single flight
  • Wingspan up to 3.5m
  • Mates for life  

The anglerfish

The high seas’ deep-sea wonder

The deep-sea anglerfish lives at least 1.6km below the surface of the ocean in the darkest, coldest areas of Earth. It is characterised by a dangling light lure on its head, and a wide fang-festooned mouth which can expand so that it swallows prey twice its size.  

Only the female has the dangling lure – actually an extended dorsal fin containing millions of light-generating bacteria – that hangs over the mouth like a fishing rod. Prey are enticed within reach of the mouth and then gulped down into the fish’s soft, expandable body. 

Despite their formidable appearance, female deep-sea anglerfish are less than 30cm in length, slow-growing and slow to mature. The male of the species is much smaller and is completely dependent on the female. When males mature, their digestive system degenerates – making it impossible for them to feed themselves. To survive, a male must find a female, attach itself to her like a parasite, and share her food, bloodstream and major organs for the rest of its life.

Young anglerfish develop in shallower, less hostile waters above 200m, and then sink to the depths as they mature. They spend their lives in the high seas and are entirely reliant on them for survival.

Facts

  • Carries its own light source
  • Lives in the deepest, coldest parts of the world
  • Males latch on to females for their whole lives

The silky shark

The high seas’ open water swimmer

Silky sharks have sleek, streamlined bodies, long tails, a small dorsal fin and the smooth-textured skin that gives them their name. Highly agile, they are perfectly evolved for their mobile lifestyle, swimming up to 60km in a day.

We know they have roamed the high seas for millions of years because fossilised silky shark teeth have been found that are 3.5 million years old.

Silkys prefer the deeper high seas waters beyond the continental shelf, spending much of their time in open water to a depth of 200m but sometimes diving to 500m or more. They are highly migratory: for example, in the north Atlantic Ocean they swim around the east coast of the United States and across to Spain; in the south Atlantic they travel from southern Brazil to northern Angola.

Growing to around 2.5m, they are known for their stealth, speed and acute hearing – essential qualities for catching the tuna that they trail in groups. Females raise a litter of pups annually, caring for them in nurseries along the continental shelf.

Despite historically being one of the most abundant open ocean sharks they are now listed as threatened by the IUCN. They are entirely reliant on the high seas for survival.

Facts

  • Swims up to 60km in a day
  • Dives to 500m
  • Has inhabited the planet for millions of years