Wandering albatross

Wandering albatross in flight
Wandering albatross in flight (Photo: Mike Double)
Wandering albatross on Campbell Island Wandering albatross on Iles Crozet Nesting wandering albatross on Iles Crozet Wandering albatross over Southern Ocean

Scientific name: Diomedea exulans

Physical description

Wandering albatross have a white head, neck and body, a wedge-shaped tail, and a large pink beak.

Juveniles have mostly dark plumage, which gradually whitens with age.

Distribution and abundance

Wandering albatross are found right across the Southern Ocean, including Antarctic, subantarctic and subtropical waters.

Wandering albatross breed on subantarctic and Antarctic islands between 46° and 56°S such as Iles Kerguelen, South Georgia and Macquarie Island.

Young birds will remain at sea for five to ten years before returning to their natal island to breed.

Conservation status: vulnerable with population trends decreasing

Research shows that decreasing populations are due to the birds being caught in long-line fishing operations.

Breeding

Wandering albatross breed only once every two years, and the task of incubating the half-kilogram egg and rearing the chick is shared by both parents.

Diet and feeding

Their diet consists of fish, cephalopods, jellyfish, and on rare occasions crustaceans. They also eat penguin and seal carrion.

Chicks may consume up to 100 kg of food during their rearing period, which lasts for approximately 300 days.

Foraging trips of wandering albatross can last for 50 days at a time but tend to be much shorter during the breeding season.

This page was last modified on 12 August 2010.