wandering albatross is a truly remarkable bird. South
Georgia residents of the species have been known to make
regular fishing trips that take them as far as the seas
off Uruguay and southern Brazil. Round trips of thousands
of kilometres over several days repeated frequently, and
all to catch food for themselves and their young. Any visiting
ship to the South Atlantic will almost certainly at some
time be followed by one or more albatross, wheeling and
turning around the ship, following at a distance hypnotically
The bird in this picture
is a juvenile recognisable by the dark wing tips. As the
bird ages, the dark patches recede further to the tips of
the wings, so it becomes whiter. After leaving the nest
they are thought not to return to land again for 7 to 10
years when they return to the island where they were born.
Albatrosses mate for life and can live to be 80 - 85 years
old probably making them the animal that travels farther
than any other in their life-time.
The birds rarely flap their
wings that can measure up to 4 metres in span. They swoop
low over the never ending swell of the southern ocean, dipping
down when the sea falls and rising on the air that is pushed
up again when the wave rises. In this manner they are able
to fly continuously and cover vast distances with the minimum
of effort. There is even a mechanism within the base of
the wing to "lock" it in an extended position
so the bird doesn't need to strain to keep its "arms"
The albatross is a large
bird with a large chick. The chick is so large (12kg when
it leaves the nest) that it takes just over 12 months to
develop fully. This means that the albatross is in the same
select group as king and emperor penguins in that it has
a breeding cycle that stretches over 2 years.
the bird carries the soul of dead mariners. If a sailor
kills the bird, bad luck would fall upon him for the rest
of his natural life. This was not a universal belief as
the feet of the albatross were once used as tobacco pouches.
bird that made the breeze to blow" - Samuel Taylor
Coleridge "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner".
Protect the Wandering Albatross.
are facing a decline due to illegal and unregulated longline
fishing. Populations of Wandering Albatross are declining
at an estimated 1% per year, exposing them to probable extinction
within the century if nothing is done to protect them.