WANDERING ALBATROSS (Diomeda exulans) – (See images below)
The Wandering Albatross is one of the largest birds of the world and spends most of its life in the air above the Southern Ocean looking for fish. This bird is known for traveling long distances. It will go on land for breeding, and like all albatrosses they are clumsy on the ground. Its numbers have sharply declined because of long line fishing, although now measures are taken to reduce by catch mortality. But it is still considered as a vulnerable species.
The wandering albatross is about 45 inches long, and has the largest wingspan of any bird at around 10 feet on average. Around the Kaikoura Peninsula, South Island of New Zealand (where the birds below were photographed and filmed), these birds can be seen feeding year round. They are not however very large birds. Like all albatrosses, these birds have elaborate courtship rituals and will mate for life.
NOTES: The albatross is part of an order of birds that includes seabirds with a ‘tubenose’ bill. This highly specialized bill is made of plates and the nostrils are inside one of them in the shape of a ‘tube’. These birds drink seawater, and they have glands in their bill to extract the salt from the water. Their nostrils also have a self-defensive feature – when threatened they can spit out a foul-smelling oil from that organ.