We continue to cover oceanic species as we highlight No Plastic July. The Albatross is one of the most majestic seabirds on the planet. They are impressive with their travel of thousands of miles before ever coming back to land. Truly an awesome species and one you want to know more about.
Birds span back 150 million years with the Albatross spanning back an incredible 55 million years. Modern breeds of Albatross span back about 15 million years.
Albatross is from the Order of Procellariiformes. There are four Families: Albatross, Petrels, Shearwaters, Storm Petrels. Then there are four genera within the Albatross family. These genera are the:
- great albatrosses(Diomedea),
- North Pacific albatrosses (Phoebastria), and the
- Sooty albatrosses or sooties (Phoebetria)
- The North Pacific albatrosses are considered to be a sister taxon to the great albatrosses, while the sooty albatrosses are considered closer to the mollymawks.
Within the Genus Diomedea– great albatrosses, the species are:
- Diomedea epomophora, southern royal albatross
- Diomedea sanfordi, northern royal albatross
- Diomedea exulans, wandering albatross
- Diomedea antipodensis, Antipodean albatross
- Diomedea antipodensis gibsoni, Gibson’s albatross
- Diomedea dabbenena, Tristan albatross
- Diomedea amsterdamensis, Amsterdam albatross
These birds can live over 50 years with some tagged Albatross living over 65 years old. Albatrosses can fly up to 67 mph (105 kph) km per hour when maneuvering but usually glide at lower speeds 25 MPH (40 kph).
Albatrosses are great gliders – they can soar through the sky without flapping their wings for several hours at a time. They’re so efficient at flying that they can actually use up less energy in the air than they would while sitting in a nest. Albatrosses travel huge distances with two techniques used by many long-winged seabirds: dynamic soaring and slope soaring. Dynamic soaring involves repeatedly rising into wind and descending downwind, thus gaining energy from the vertical wind gradient. Slope soaring uses the rising air on the windward side of large waves. They are so efficient at gliding that their heart rates are almost at rest while they glide. They expend little energy.
Albatrosses feed primarily on squid or schooling fish, organisms found on the ocean surface such as: fish, cephalopods (squid), krill, crabs, and carrion as well, like rotting whales.
Of the 22 species of Albatross , 3 are Critically Endangered, 5 are Endangered, 7 are Near Threatened and 7 are Vulnerable. Of the Great Albatross:
- southern royal albatross (vulnerable)
- northern royal albatross (endangered)
- wandering albatross (vulnerable)
- Antipodean albatross (vulnerable)
- Gibson’s albatross (vulnerable)
- Tristan albatross (CE)
- Amsterdam albatross (CE)
All species of Albatross are threatened with extinction. We need to all do our part to help heal our oceans. Reduce your plastic waste and you can learn more at the Plastic Free July Website.