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The great Albatrosses, Diomedea

Albatross - Diomedea dabbenena

Wandering Albatross, Albatros Hurleur,  Diomedea exulans


The great albatrosses are seabirds in the genus Diomedea in the albatross family. The genus Diomedea formerly included all
albatrosses except the sooty albatrosses, but in 1996 the genus was split with the mollymawks and the North Pacific albatrosses both being elevated to separate genera. The great albatrosses themselves form two species complexes, the wandering
and Amsterdam albatrosses, and the royal albatrosses. The splitting of the great albatrosses into six or seven species has been
accepted by most, though not all authorities

The Wandering Albatross and the Southern Royal Albatross are the largest of the albatrosses and are amongst the largest of flying
birds. They have the largest wingspans of any bird; being up to 3.5 m from tip to tip, although the average is a little over 3 m.
Large adult males of these two species may exceed 11 kg in weight, as heavy as a large swan.

The great albatrosses are predominantly white in plumage as adults, with birds becoming whiter as they age. The two Royal
Albatrosses at all ages and the larger, older male Wandering Albatrosses are totally white-bodied, while adult females and
younger animals of the other species have dark pencilling marks on the edges of their feathers. Generally the smaller species or
subspecies and the juveniles have more dark brown colour. The recently discovered Amsterdam Albatross retains the dark
brown plumage of juvenile birds into adulthood.

The Great albatrosses range across the Southern Ocean, and nest (for the most part) on isolated oceanic islands. The wandering
albatrosses nest on islands around the Southern Ocean, from the Atlantic Ocean (South Georgia and Tristan da Cunha), to the
Indian Ocean and New Zealand's sub-Antarctic islands. The royal albatrosses nest only on New Zealand's sub-Antarctic islands,
with one unusual colony on New Zealand's Otago Peninsula.

Diomedea amsterdamensis RED LIST (exulans) Beltealbatross Amsterdam Albatross
Diomedea antipodensis RED LIST (exulans)   Antipodean Albatross
Diomedea dabbenena RED LIST (exulans) Tristanalbatross Tristan Albatross
Diomedea epomophora RED LIST Kongealbatross, sørlig Southern Royal Albatross
Diomedea exulans RED LIST Vandrealbatross Wandering Albatross-Albatros Hurleur
Diomedea sanfordi RED LIST (epomorpha) Kongealbatross, nordlig Northern Royal Albatross

Tristan Albatross - Diomedea dabbenena (Diomedea exulans exulans) RED LIST

The Tristan Albatross is a large albatross, with a length of 110 cm and a wingspan of approximately 3.5 m.
They are very similar in plumage to the Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans (sensu lato)).
The two species are often indistinguishable in the field, although the plumage of the Tristan Albatross is generally
darker (BirdLife International 2006a). The Tristan Albatross may be distinguished by its slightly smaller size,
and slower acquisition of white adult plumage; never attaining the very white plumage of the Wandering Albatross
(BirdLife International 2006a).

© 2010 Academy of Science of South Africa

The Tristan Albatross occurs in a single population which breeds on Inaccessible Island and Gough Island in
the Atlantic Ocean, having been eliminated from the main island of Tristan da Cunha by 1907 (Environment Australia
2001f). Tristan Albatrosses appear to wander widely from their subantarctic breeding islands within the Atlantic
Ocean to about 35° S. They forage almost as far north as the equator (Marchant & Higgins 1990).

The current global population of the Tristan Albatross is estimated between 6000–7000 birds (Gales 1998).
This figure however, was derived from a crude estimate made in the 1980s, and the current population
status remains unknown. The only substantial breeding population occurs on Gough Island, where it is estimated
that fewer than 2000 breeding pairs remain. Several hundred breeding pairs previously bred on Inaccessible Island,
however, predation by introduced pigs devastated the colony, and by the 1940s only two or three pairs remained.
This tiny population has not increased since (Environment Australia 2001f).

The Tristan Albatross of Gough Island, a migratory and a Critically Endangered species.
Photograph by John Cooper

The Tristan Albatross is a marine, pelagic seabird. It forages in open water in the Atlantic Ocean near the Cape
of Good Hope, South Africa. It sleeps and rests on ocean waters when not breeding (Marchant & Higgins 1990).

ARKive video - Tristan albatross - overview
Tristan albatross - overview
Ross Wanless and Andrea Angel
Percy FitzPatrck Institute of African Ornithology
University of Cape Town


The Tristan Albatross breeds biennially (every two years),

Hook and plastic ingestion may potentially threaten the Tristan Albatross. Hook ingestion by albatrosses and
giant-petrels (Macronectes spp.) appears to have increased in recent years. Between 50–100 million hooks are
set each year in the Atlantic Ocean and as many as 1.1 billion hooks are set globally. Both seabirds and fishing
vessels concentrate in areas of high biological productivity (Environment Australia 2001f).
See more about this threat here: CLICK

Source: Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (2010).
Diomedea exulans exulans in Species Profile and Threats Database,
Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra.
Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat.
Accessed Thu, 26 Aug 2010 19:44:20 +1000.

Wandering Albatross,  Diomedea exulans
Albatros Hurleur


The Wandering Albatross, Snowy Albatross, or White-winged Albatross, Diomedea exulans,
is a large seabird from the family Diomedeidae which has a circumpolar range in the Southern Ocean.
It was the first species of albatross to be described, and was long considered the same specie
as the Tristan Albatross and the Antipodean Albatross. In fact, a few authors still consider them all
subspecies of the same species. The SACC has a proposal on the table to split this species, and
BirdLife International has already split it. Together with the Amsterdam Albatross it forms the
Wandering Albatross species complex.
The Wandering Albatross is the largest member of the genus Diomedea (the great albatrosses),
one of the largest birds in the world, and is one of the best known and studied species of bird
in the world.


The Wandering Albatross has the largest wingspan of any living bird, with the wingspan between
2.51–3.50 m (8.2–11.5 ft). As a result of its wingspan, it is capable of remaining in the air without
beating its wings for several hours at a time (travelling 22 m for every meter of drop).
The length of the body is about 107–135 cm (3.5–4.4 ft) with females being slightly smaller than males,
and they weigh typically from 6.25–11.3 kg (13.8–25 lb).

The plumage varies with age, with the juveniles starting chocolate brown.
As they age they lose their color and get whiter. The adults have white bodies with black and white
wings. Males have whiter wings than females with just the tips and trailing edges of the wings black.
The large bill is pink, as are the feet.


They are night feeders and feed on cephalopods, small fish, and crustaceans and on animal refuse
that floats on the sea, eating to such excess at times that they are unable to fly and rest helplessly
on the water. They are prone to following ships for refuse. They can also make shallow dives.

Red area is for Light-Mantled Albatross. Map is used here only to show islands.
Range map from
2010. Phoebetria palpebrata. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>.
Downloaded on 08 September 2010. (Island names supplied by www.vulkaner.no)

The Wandering Albatross breeds on South Georgia Island, Crozet Islands, Kerguelen Islands,
Prince Edward Islands, and Macquarie Island, is seen feeding year round off the Kaikoura Peninsula
on the east coast of the south island of New Zealand and it ranges in all the southern oceans
from 28° to 60°.

Breeding Population and Trends

Location Population Date Trend
South Georgia Islands 1,553 pair 2006 Decreasing -4% yr
Prince Edward Islands 1,850 pair 2003 Stable
Marion Island 1,600 pair 2008  
Crozet Islands 2,000 pair 1997 Declining
Kerguelen Islands 1,100 pair 1997  
Macquarie Island 10 pair 2006  
Total 26,000 2007 Decreasing -30% over 70 yrs
BirdLife International (2008)(a)

The Wandering Albatross breeds every other year. At breeding time they occupy loose colonies
on isolated island groups in the Southern Ocean. They lay one egg that is white, with a few spots,
and is about 10 cm (3.9 in) long. They lay this egg between 10 December and 5 January, in their nests,
which is a large bowl built of grassy vegetation and soil peat, that is 1 metre wide at the base and
half a metre wide at the apex. Incubation takes about 11 weeks and both parents are involved.
They are a monogamous species, usually for life. Adolescents return to the colony within 6 years;
however they won't start breeding until 11 to 15 years. About 30% of fledglings survive.

See Albatross numbers under threat

ARKive video - Wandering albatross - overview
Wandering albatross - overview
ABC Library Sales, Melbourne

Wandering Albatrosses have the largest wingspan of any living bird.
(Wandering Albatross User licence provided to wikipedia by photographer:Eric van Poppel don.vanpoppel@wildlifelands.com)

Text on this page from Wikipedia, (E:\wwwdomene\n\birds\albatross\Wandering Albatross - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.mht)


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