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The Sooty Albatrosses, Phoebetria

Light-mantled Albatross, Phoebetria palpebrata 
Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Grey-mantled Albatross

Dark-mantled Albatross, Phoebetria fusca

Dark-mantled Sooty Albatross

The Sooty Albatross, Dark-mantled Sooty Albatross or Dark-mantled Albatross, Phoebetria fusca, and the Light-mantled
Albatross, Phoebetria palpebrata, are species of birds in the albatross family. They breed on sub-Antarctic islands and range
at sea across the Southern Ocean from South America to Australia.

Sooty Albatrosses are a type of Albatross that belong to Diomedeidae family and come from the Procellariiformes order,
along with Shearwaters, Fulmars, Storm-petrels, and Diving-petrels. They share certain identifying features. First, they have
nasal passages that attach to the upper bill called naricorns. Although the nostrils on the Albatross are on the sides of the bill.
The bills of Procellariiformes are also unique in that they are split into between 7 and 9 horny plates. Finally, they produce a
stomach oil made up of wax esters and triglycerides that is stored in the proventriculus. This is used against predators as well
as an energy rich food source for chicks and for the adults during their long flights. They also have a salt gland that is situated
above the nasal passage and helps desalinate their bodies, due to the high amount of ocean water that they imbibe.
It excretes a high saline solution from their nose.

The Sooty Albatross is a medium sized albatross and measures about 85 cm), with a 2 m wingspan. Adult body mass ranges
from 2.1 to 3.4 kg. It is sooty-brown with darker shading on the sides of its head. It has a white crescent above and behind
its eye. Its bill is black with an orange or yellow sulcus. The tail of this albatross is wide diamond shaped. Juveniles are similar
to adults.

Their diet consists of squid, crustaceans, cephalopods, fish, and carrion.
The Sooty Albatross is a colonial bird; however not to the degree of other Albatrosses, as their colonies usually consist of 50
to 60 pair. They will build their nests on cliffs and steep slopes. Whereas they can mate annually they only do so biennially.

This albatross nests on islands in the southern Atlantic Ocean (Gough Island and the Tristan da Cunha group) and Indian Ocean
(Prince Edward Island, Marion Island, the Crozet Islands, Amsterdam Island, and Kerguelen Islands). They forage in both
oceans north to about 30°S.

Light-mantled Albatross, Phoebetria palpebrata


This species is classified as Near Threatened as it may be declining at a moderately rapid rate,
owing to bycatch on longline fisheries and perhaps the impacts of introduced predators. T
hreats and population status both remain poorly known.


Phoebetria palpebrata has a circumpolar distribution in the Southern Ocean.
It disperses over cold Antarctic waters in summer as far south as the pack ice12 but ranges
north into temperate and sub-tropical seas in winter.

It breeds on South Georgia, Auckland, Campbell and Antipodes islands, Amsterdam, St Paul,
Crozet and Kerguelen islands, Heard Is., Macquarie Is. and Prince Edward and Marion islands.

The total annual breeding population is estimated at 19,000-24,000 pairs, equivalent to 58,000 mature individuals in this biennially breeding species1,4. Population trends are poorly known.
On Possession Island (Crozet), there has been a decline of 13% in 15 years, though the population is
now increasing. The small population on Marion Island appears to now be stable, following a decrease
between 1997-2002. Overall trends are uncertain as the majority of colonies have not been studied,
but may be declining owing to bycatch on longline fisheries, plus perhaps the impacts of
introduced predators at some sites.
2010. Phoebetria palpebrata. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 08 September 2010.


The species breeds in loose colonies or small groups, and sometimes is a solitary breeder.
The nest is built on a vegetated cliff ledge, or a steep slope, sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds. Structurally it is a low mound of peat and mud, 15–30 cm (5.9–12 in) high and 45–55 cm (18–22 in) wide
at the base, with a cupped hollow at the top. It incorporates some plant material and with a grass lining.
Around October or November,[ a single egg is laid, which is not replaced if lost.

Both sexes incubate alternately in shifts that vary from a day or two up to nearly a month in length.
The incubation period is 65–72 days.[4]. After hatching in December or January, which takes 3 to 5 days,
the chicks are brooded in shifts for about 20 days, following which they are left alone in the nests
while the adults forage, returning to feed the chicks by regurgitation every 2–3 days.

Photo: Dimitri Damasceno

The entire nestling period from hatching to fledging, which occurs in May or June, lasts 140-170 days. Pairs form committed pair-bonds which may last for decades, being renewed through complex courtship
displays at the breeding site. On average, birds begin breeding when they reach 8 to 15 years old,
after which they breed biennially, fledging a chick every five years or so.
They are capable of breeding until at least 32 years old and living to 40 or longer.

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)

ARKive video - Light-mantled albatross - overview
Light-mantled albatross - overview
BBC Natural History Unit

Breeding Population and Trends
Breeding Location Breeding Pairs Trend
Possession Island 996 -13% over 15 years
Rest of Crozet Islands 1,404 Unknown
South Georgia 5,000 to 7,500 Unknown
Kerguelen Islands 3,000 to 5,000 Unknown
Auckland Islands 5,000 Unknown
Macquarie Island 2,000 Unknown
Campbell Island 1,600 Unknown
Antipodes Island 170 Unknown
Heard Island 200 to 500 Unknown
Marion Island 179 Stable
Prince Edward Island 150 Unknown
King George Island 5 Unknown
Total 58,000 -20% to -29% over 100 years

The part above about breeding: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light-mantled_Albatross


over 250


over 500


over 225
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