The giant albatross is one of the largest living birds, often reaching wingspans of over 10 feet! They live most of their lives on the water, feeding on fish, crustaceans, and squids. They latch onto their squirming prey using their bladed beaks, which are designed for a secure and steady grip.
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Aves
Order - Procellariiformes
Family - Diomedeidae
Genus - Diomedea
Common Names – Giant Albatross, Great Albatross
Albatrosses are known for their large wingpsans and their admirable soaring abilities. Their huge wingspan allows them to fly for long periods of time without flapping their wings. The wandering albatross (D. exulans) has wings that can span up to 12 feet long. They are also quite heavy and can weigh as much as 26 lbs.
Everything an albatross does takes a great deal of time. They are long lived birds and take a long time to mature. Once mature, they will wait even longer before mating. Attracting a mate involves a carefully practiced ritual that includes elaborate dancing. The nest is built out of mud and plants and both parents share the duty of watching over the single egg.
Albatross are far ranging birds who soar over very large distances, searching for fish and other marine prey. They nest in remote locations in very large groups, and mating pairs will stay together for many years. Certain species stay together for life.
Albatrosses have a special place in maritime folklore and superstition, with The Rime of the Ancient Mariner being their most famous depiction. It’s a common myth amongst sailors that hurting or killing an albatross ensures dangers or disaster on a voyage. Despite their symbolic image and popularity in nautical culture, giant albatrosses have been negatively affected by human activities, such as overfishing.
All species of albatross are threatened to some degree, historically due to them being hunted for their feathers. These days, they are declining due to many factors, including pollution, overfishing of food sources, and species being introduced into their nesting grounds that attack their eggs, such as cats and rodents.