‘Earth’ Our home too : Albatross


Albatrosses are large seabirds in the family Diomedeidae. They are related to the procellariids, storm petrels, and diving petrels in the order Procellariiformes (the tubenoses). They range widely in the Southern Ocean and the North Pacific. Albatrosses are among the largest of flying birds, and species of the genus Diomedea (great albatrosses) have the longest wingspans of any extant birds, reaching up to 3.7 m (12 ft).

They feed on squid, fish, and krill by either scavenging, surface seizing, or diving. Albatrosses are colonial, nesting for the most part on remote oceanic islands, often with several species nesting together. Pair bonds between males and females form over several years, with the use of “ritualised dances”, and last for the life of the pair. A breeding season can take over a year from laying to fledging, with a single egg laid in each breeding attempt. A Laysan albatross, named Wisdom, on Midway Island is recognised as the oldest wild bird in the world; she was first banded in 1956 by Chandler Robbins

The Endangered Albatross: 19 species of albatross are endangered. At present, they are one of the most endangered birds in the world. Threats to their survival include oil spills, loss of habitat, predators, climate change and eating or getting tangled in plastic or netting. Longline fishing pose the greatest threat, as feeding birds are attracted to the bait, become hooked on the lines, and drown. Identified stakeholders such as governments, conservation organisations, and people in the fishing industry are all working toward reducing this bycatch.

Population of Albatross:

Most of the numbers below are in the decline, which will be lesser than the indicated figures.

Albatross SpeciesPopulation LeftReported Year
Wandering albatross 25,0002007
Antipodean albatross 25,3002004
Amsterdam albatross130NA
Tristan albatross3,000NA
Northern royal albatross20,0002012
Southern royal albatross28,0001997
Waved albatross34,7002001
Short-tailed albatross 4,200NA
Black-footed albatross64,5002001
Laysan albatross5,90,9262005
Black-browed albatross6,00,0002005
Campbell albatross49,0001997
Shy albatross26,0002007
White-capped albatross15,0001993
Chatham albatross11,0002003
Salvin’s albatross62,0001998
Grey-headed albatross2,50,0002004
Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross55,0002001
Indian yellow-nosed albatross65,0002004
Buller’s albatross64,0001999
Sooty albatross12,500NA
Light-mantled albatross58,0001998

Great albatrosses

An albatross aloft can be a spectacular sight. These feathered giants have the longest wingspan of any bird—up to 11 feet! … Albatrosses use their formidable wingspans to ride the ocean winds and sometimes to glide for hours without rest or even a flap of their wingsNational Geographic

Albatrosses are masters of soaring flight, able to glide over vast tracts of ocean without flapping their wings. So fully have they adapted to their oceanic existence that they spend the first six or more years of their long lives (which last upwards of 50 years) without ever touching land. – Simithsonianmag

Albatrosses can live to 40- 60 years and beyond. They mate for life and some do not find another if their partner dies. – (Independent)

North Pacific albatrosses

Mollymawks

Shy albatross Image Credits:  JJ Harrison (https://www.jjharrison.com.au/)
Chatham albatross  Image Courtesy : Wikipedia
Grey-headed albatross Image Credits: Wikipedia
Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross Image Credits : Wikipedia

Sooty albatrosses

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