Animals

Great Albatross: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

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The great albatross is also known by the name 'wandering albatross'. The wandering albatross's scientific name is Diomedea exulans. It is known to be one of the biggest birds in the world. There are several smaller species in the family of  Diomedeidae. The antipodean albatross (Diomedea antipodensis), Tristan albatross (Diomedea dabbenea), northern royal albatross (Diomedea sanfordi), southern royal albatross (Diomedea epomophora), and black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophris) are some other species of the Albatross family.  

Albatrosses are mostly noticed in the southern hemisphere across the continents of Australia, Antarctica, South America as well as South Africa. The southern royal albatross is one of the species that is found in the southern hemisphere of New Zealand. However, out of the several species of albatrosses, three species are found in the Northern hemisphere.

An adult albatross is found breeding once every two years. During the time of mating, they gather in herds and form a colony. Humans have often posed a serious threat to albatrosses by hunting them down.  Adult wandering albatrosses (diomedea exulans) are famous for their adroit flying.

If you like what you read, do check out glaucous-winged gull facts and southern royal albatross facts.

Great Albatross

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Octopus, squid, fish, carrion

What do they eat?

Carnivore

Average litter size?

1

How much do they weigh?

13-28.4 lb (5.9-12.7 kg)

How long are they?

43.3-55.1 in (110-140 cm)

How tall are they?

42-54 in (107-135 cm)

What do they look like?

Black, white, grey, brown

Skin Type

Feathers

What are their main threats?

Pollution, longline fishing

What is their conservation status?

Vulnerable

Where you'll find them

Antarctic tundra region

Locations

South Georgia, Prince Edward Island, Marion Island, Crozet Islands, the Kerguelen Islands, Macquarie Island, New Zealand

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Aves

Scientific Name

Diomedea exulans

Family

Diomedeidae

Genus

Diomedea

Great Albatross Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a great albatross?

A wandering albatross falls under the family name Diomedeidae. They are the biggest of all the birds that fly.

What class of animal does a great albatross belong to?

A wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) falls under the class of Aves. They lay their eggs in the islands and protect those eggs from being harmed until the chicks are ready to fend for themselves. These seabirds as parents of their chicks are responsible for feeding them. They go out alternatively in search of food for their young ones. They go to the ocean to catch food like fish, carrion, squid, etc.  

How many great albatrosses are there in the world?

According to the IUCN Red List, the population of adult albatrosses is 20,100.

Where does a great albatross live?

The Crozet Islands in the Indian Ocean, South Georgia in the South Atlantic, Campbell Island, and the Snares Islands in New Zealand have albatrosses in plentiful numbers.

What is a great albatross's habitat?

A wandering albatross is found near the seas, oceans, and islands. The bird is seen in the Southern Ocean and the North Pacific Oceans.

Who do great albatrosses live with?

Albatrosses are known to live in colonies in remote islands where humans do not reside, they stay there mostly while breeding. Albatrosses live for most of their lives flying in the sky.

How long does a great albatross live?

The largest living bird has an average life expectancy of around 42 years.

How do they reproduce?

Wandering albatrosses reproduce along the coasts of oceans and seas. They start breeding in January. The egg they produce is milky white in color. It takes about 10 to 11 days for the egg to hatch. Their babies take quite some time to learn the art of flying.  While these seabirds get ready to take their first flight, they develop feathers that help them soar. They learn to take their first flight all by themselves with no help from their parents.

What is their conservation status?

According to the IUCN Red List, this bird has been listed as Vulnerable. They have been poached for several years for their feathers to make hats for women. However, recently because of longline fishing and pollution in the oceans and seas, the population of albatrosses is rapidly decreasing.

Great Albatross Fun Facts

What do great albatrosses look like?

The wandering albatross is one of the most majestic birds.

The largest living bird- the albatross is massive in size. It has a long yellow bill that it uses to catch prey. It has big wings that that spread across the sky while they fly over an island, ocean, or sea. It is usually white or dark brown in color.

How cute are they?

Wandering albatrosses look pristine with their milky white wings and huge pinkish-yellow bills. They are found dark brownish as well but cannot be exactly called cute. However, their chicks are fluffy and look extremely cute. They lose their cuteness as they grow up and transform into big fierce birds.

How do they communicate?

Wandering albatrosses communicate by making shrieking sounds, squeaking, and trumpeting. They also grunt and moan while mating.

How big is a great albatross?

Wandering albatrosses are one of the largest birds that can fly. They are huge in size and their height on average varies from 42-54 in (107-135 cm) with the larger ones being more than 130 in (330 cm) long. They have the largest wingspan among all other flying birds. They are larger than a black-browed albatross.

How fast can a great albatross move?

Albatrosses have huge wings that enable them to soar high in the sky. With a wingspan of around 132 in (335.28 cm), they fly at approximately 40.7 mph (80 kph).

How much does a great albatross weigh?

An adult Albatross is enormous. The bird usually weighs around 13-28.4 lb (5.9-12.7 kg). The females weigh slightly less than their male counterparts. They are generally bulkier than a southern royal albatross.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Both male and female wandering albatrosses are known by the scientific name Diomedea exulans and they are not demarcated by separate names.

What would you call a baby great albatross?

The baby of an albatross is known as a chick.

What do they eat?

Primarily the diet of a wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) consists of fish and other small sea creatures. Additionally, these birds also feed on shrimp, squid, carrion, and decaying sea animals.

Are they dangerous?

No. An Albatross poses no real threat to anyone.

Would they make a good pet?

Albatrosses live on islands, oceans, and seas where they prey on sea creatures as has been mentioned in the fact file. They are wild birds and it is better to leave them in their natural habitat. Hence, they are not fit to be domesticated.

Did you know...

The name 'albatross' has been derived from an Arabic term al-qādūs or al-ḡaṭṭās which denotes 'a driver'.

The wandering albatross lays one egg at a time.

The wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) on breeding produces an egg that measures around 10cm long.

The oldest living female Layson albatross was named Wisdom. Wisdom gave birth to her last chick in the year 2021 at the age of 70.

Wandering albatrosses are monogamous. A pair of albatrosses forms a bond of love that stays for life.

Sometimes female albatrosses pair with another female.

About 31% of female albatrosses pair with another female albatross. Female birds, not breeding due to a lack of a partner, form a pair with another female albatross who has a chick and raise it together.

There are about 22 species of albatrosses which belong to the genus Diomedea: Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis), wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans), antipodean albatross (Diomedea antipodensis), Amsterdam albatross (Diomedea amsterdamensis), Tristan albatross (Diomedea dabbenena), northern royal albatross (Diomedea sanfordi), and the southern royal albatross (Diomedea epomophora) are some of the 22 species that exist.

A wandering albatross breeds on sub-Antarctic and Antarctic islands. They also breed in New Zealand and Australia. Specifically, the Royal albatross breeds only in New Zealand.

What is special about albatrosses?

The wandering albatross, with the largest wingspan, once in flight can remain in the sky for several years. With its big wings and huge wingspan, it can stay in the sky for over six years without landing on the islands or ocean. It is also assumed that wandering albatrosses sleep while flying in the sky. The bird only lands while breeding.

Why are albatrosses back luck?

Albatrosses were a pivotal part of any mariner's life in the past. Albatrosses and mariners have a very deep connection with the ocean. While mariners sail on an ocean, an albatross flies over it, with its wings spread out wide. While some of them considered it to be auspicious, some thought of it as a bad omen. Some believed that a dead mariner's soul resides within an albatross hence it is auspicious to see one in flight.

It was also thought to be a bad omen by some and the sight of an albatross indicated that the sailors are destined to die. However, killing an albatross would mean the definite downfall and death of the entire crew of sailors. This superstition goes back to the time when Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in his poem 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner', told of how the sailor who killed an albatross was forced to wear the dead corpse around his neck by the rest of the crew as retribution.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these laughing gull facts and godwit facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable albatross coloring pages.

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