Wandering Albatross

Diomedea exulans

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Bernard Spragg

The Wandering Albatross is found throughout the Southern Hemisphere, spending most of its time at sea or the air unless nesting. Classified as vulnerable the species is threatened by accidental by-catch in fishing activities and discarded equipment. Plastic pollution has also been shown to cause mortality for the species once injested.

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Distribution:

Seen across South America, Africa and Australia this species has a very wide but shallow distribution reaching the edges of Antarctica. Despite being present in many countries, the species nests preferentially on smaller islands and Atolls.

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Habitat:

The Wandering Albatross can spend large amounts of time at sea or in the air, but nest on flat grassy areas near sea cliffs or rocky out-croppings. This species exhibits large foraging ranges of up to 4000km between visits to a colony or nest site.

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Diet:

Fish make up the majority of the species diet as adults, often following fishing vessels to help find large shoals. This has lead to a high reliance on Patagonian toothfish which are caught and discarded regularly by fishing operations in the range of the Albatross.

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Threats:

Fishing activity has a large impact on the species who are caught accidentilly and killed in the nets. Additionally, the species was historically targetted for its feathers and meat due to its large size. Currently one of the largest pressures and threats to the species comes from domesticated cats and rats who have been introduced or live on the islands used for nesting. These species eat the eggs or kill young Albatross.

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Conservation status:

Classified as Vunerable to extinction the Wandering Albatross is in a steady decline. While conservation actions have protected the species in some areas, due to their range their impact is limited so far. It is estimated that 20,000 individuals remain, around half of the species historical numbers.