The albatross is a large seabird that generally frequents cooler waters and has the longest wingspan of any living bird.
How big can it get?
The largest on record is a Wandering Albatross that was captured in 1965 in the Tasman Sea between New Zealand and Australia. Its wingspan was a massive 3.7 metres (just shy of 12 feet). Only the Giant Teratorn, which existed some 6 million years ago, has ever measured longer. (For the record, fossils suggest it had a wingspan of 25 feet.)
What does it eat?
Spending most of its time at sea has forced it to adapt its diet accordingly. As such, the albatross is likely to dine on shrill, fish, squid, crustaceans, and zooplankton. It is also a scavenger and actively seeks out carrion as well as scraps from passing ships.
How does it hunt?
The giant bird can adopt a three-pronged attack when it comes to finding food. It surface feeds, strikes from above, and dives for food. The Light-mantled albatross can dive as deep as 12 metres into the ocean.
How dangerous is it?
Despite fisherman’s tales of the albatross being bad luck and leading sailors to their doom, it actually offers very little danger to humans. Still, giving the right circumstances, its powerful wings could probably break a limb or too.
How many are left?
There are 22 species of albatross that appear on the IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species. This is almost all of the albatrosses in the world.
The albatross spends more time at sea than any other bird, not to mention seals. This fascination starts early with young birds heading to sea as soon as they can fly and only returning 5-10 years later.