Friday, December 9, 2011

The albatross's good-bye

© Mike Hood, JC066 Nov-Dec 2011

A good indicator that we are moving northward is that there are fewer and fewer albatrosses around the ship. We have probably left their favourite distribution range as we have reached the subtropical waters (seawater temperature at surface is 20°C today!).

© Mike Hood, JC066 Nov-Dec 2011
Albatrosses are among the largest flying birds. The Wandering Albatross has the longest wingspan of any birds (almost 3 m!). They are highly efficient in the air and cover great distances with no effort. Most albatrosses range in the southern hemisphere from Antarctica to Australia, South Africa and South America. They feed on fish, squid and krill mainly.

A large majority of albatross species are recognised as threatened on the IUCN Red List. One of the main threats is commercial long-line fishing; the albatrosses are attracted by the bait and become hooked on the lines and drown.

Institutions and conservation organisations are working in cooperation with the fishing industry to try to reduce this bycatch.

Albatrosses are amazing birds. You could literally spend hours watching their flying, almost brushing against the surface of the ocean, playing with the wind, exploiting the slightest air lift...

© Mike Hood, JC066 Nov-Dec 2011