To golfers, an albatross usually means that you’re three under par on a single hole. Poetry majors, it is a centuries-old metaphor for unbearable burdens. Bird enthusiasts, it is one of the earth’s most wondrous creatures.
These nine facts about albatross birds with the long wingspan in the world
1. Back in 2013, a crazy Laysan albatross named Wisdom made headlines when it was discovered she was laying eggs and raising girls at age 63.
Her longevity and of itself is not all that odd: These ocean birds have been known to achieve their 60th and maybe even 70th birthdays.
2. The Wandering albatross facts have a wingspan that measures up to 11 feet 4 inches from end to end.
But even that sounds measly compared to this now-extinct Pelagornis, a medieval seabird having a beak full of tooth-like spikes and a wingspan of 17 feet.
3. Twenty-two species of albatross are known to science, and every single one is deemed vulnerable, threatened, near-threatened, or jeopardized by conservationists.
Longline fishing hooks are particularly dangerous to large seabirds: The hooks, which could grab hold of and drown birds, even kill an estimated 100,000 albatrosses annually.
Thankfully, the birds have a powerful ally on their side. Throughout his Royal Navy career, Queen Elizabeth II’s oldest son, Charles, grew rather fond of the excellent gliders.
“I remember sailing long distances across the oceans and one of the most marvelous treats of those long passages was to emerge on deck and watch yet another albatross or two-wheeled around or following the wake of the ship,” he explained to the Albatross Task Force in a reception in 2009.
“There was something encouraging and worry about the fact that you’re being escorted from these extraordinary birds.” Now, he is a champion of more avian-friendly fishing methods.
4. ALBATROSSES PAIR FOR LIFE (BUT DON’T PRACTICE MONOGAMY).
When a young albatross reaches 10 years old, then it will usually start looking for a significant other. Just about all couples stay together until a party dies, forming marriages that can last 50 years or longer. Still, infidelity is rampant.
Based on a 2006 mass paternity test, 10.7 percent of 75 sampled Waved albatross (Phoebastria irrorata) girls weren’t sired by their own mother’s partner.
Still another study discovered that one female had sexual intercourse with 49 partners over a seven-week period. Males are alike promiscuous but remain dedicated to helping increase their partner’s infants–including people fathered by other critters.
5. Climate change has had an enormous impact on oceanic ending patterns.
Come mealtime, quicker air currents have allowed hungry albatrosses to not only travel larger distances but save valuable time when doing this.
This is most likely responsible for a normal weight increase of 20 percent since the 1970s. And since the birds now spend fewer hours on food-gathering, they are totally free to breed more frequently.
The combination might increase albatross numbers throughout the board, although it does not look sustainable long-term. Wind speeds will merely keep rising, and overly quickly airstreams are harmful to soar birds.
Fledgling albatrosses may be an easy goal on the sea’s surface. Once nesting season finishes, tiger sharks tend to gravitate toward the closest albatross hotspot in enormous amounts. In some places, the predatory fish could possibly be responsible for carrying out 10 percent of chicks reared every year.
7. Without a single wing flap, these birds can coast for several hundred kilometers a remarkable feat that no other flying monster is capable of matching.
What’s the big secret? Staying current. On extended trips, the huge birds spend half of the time facing the end and using it to fly up.
Then they will shift and dip back down to the sea, catching different skyward draft minutes afterward. By repeating this technique, they can cover enormous distances with very little effort. Copying the strategy just might help humans look more fuel-efficient aircraft.
8. THEY’VE GOT A SURPRISINGLY GOOD SENSE OF SMELL.
Seabirds don’t usually get much credit for their olfactory skills. But many rely on scent to help monitor prey; albatrosses may follow a mouth-watering odor for over 12 miles.
Related article: Seagull Attacks to steal food
9. THEY HAVE A SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP WITH SUNFISH.
|Albatross symbolic sunfish|
The world’s heaviest boned fish, typical sunfishes (Mola mola), are rib-less, tailless, flat-sided oddballs. Big ones can weigh 5000 lbs and reach 11 feet in length. The critters are also very vulnerable to parasites, 40 unique types of which might plague them.
Fortunately, they have a helpful (though not entirely selfless) ally. Recently, Laysan albatrosses were spotted actively pursuing sunfishes out of whose skin that they afterward plucked some crustacean hitchhikers. The birds got a meal and the sunfish obtained a cleaning. Win-win.
10. MANY FORM SAME-SEX COUPLES.
As biologist Lindsay C. Young is quick to frighten ornithologists, maybe not all pairs are direct. “I wouldn’t presume that what you are taking a look at are a male and a female,” she told the New York Times.
The evidence backs up her guidance. In a 2008 poll, 31% of those long-term Laysan albatross couples on Hawaii’s Oahu Island were revealed to become female-female ventures.
Out there, the gender ratio is quite imbalanced, with men being significantly outnumbered.
Two females will often couple off, enjoy tiny hetero hanky-panky on the other side, and raise chicks together.
Watch this albatross video: