The view of an albatross in flight is more than spectacular, looking like a gliding plane. The Albatross is a feathered giant, with a wing span that is longer than any other bird alive, up to 12 feet across.
There are about twenty five species of Albatross, with the wandering albatross being the largest of these. The formidable wings of the albatross are used to ride the winds on the ocean, usually gliding for hours with no rest or even a single flap, the wind carrying them where they want to go.
The Black Browed Albatross
They also tend to float on the surface of the water, although this makes them vulnerable as prey to sharks and whales. Albatrosses drink salt water, as do some other sea birds and their bodies have a filtration system that removes the salt.
The Albatross is remarkably long lived, and some of them have been documented as over fifty years old.
You will very rarely see an albatross, as they rarely come to land and when they do it is only to breed, which is normally done on remote islands where they form large colonies.
The mating pairs have only a single eggs, and they take turns incubating it and caring for the chicks. Many species mate for life, while some do not.
The young albatross will take about three to ten months to fly, depending on the variety, but when they have begun to fly they will leave the land completely behind them, riding the waves and flying on the open sea for 5-10 years, unti,l they reach their own mating ages and fly to land to mate.
The Albatross will feed on many different things, primarily though they will each fish, or squid, but they are often seen following ships because they will also dine on the garbage or handouts from sailors.
There are vast legend and maritime stories and superstition about the albatross, which were mostly begun by Samuel Coleridge in his The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
In the past many albatross were hunted for feathers, as their plumage is quite beautiful and was used for the making of hats for women. The Laysan albatross was also very important to the Some albatross species were heavily hunted for feathers that were used as down and in the manufacture of women’s hats. The Laysan albatross was hunted and was an important part of the diet of the Aleuts and Eskimo settlements that have been excavated by archaeologists have revealed many albatross bones.