Wandering Albatross

Habitat: Marine


The Wandering Albatross has a circumpolar distribution, occurring throughout the Southern Ocean, and the species is regularly recorded in the deep oceanic waters off southern Australia.


Wandering Albatrosses spend most of their life in flight, landing only to breed and feed. Distances travelled each year are hard to measure, but one banded bird was recorded travelling 6000 km in twelve days.


Wandering Albatrosses are often seen scavenging scraps from fishing boats, but squid and fish are the preferred foods. Galley refuse and floating waste also form part of the diet. Feeding is one of the few times that birds land, and this is mostly undertaken at night.

Because the albatrosses usually forage by seizing cuttlefish, squid and other cephalopods from the water’s surface, they are susceptible to being ensnared by long-line fishing-rigs, and a decline in their populations has been attributed to this activity.


The Wandering Albatrosses nearest breeding colony is on Macquarie Island, though this colony is one of the world’s smallest, comprising a mere handful of birds.

Pairs of Wandering Albatrosses mate for life and breed every two years. Breeding takes place on subantarctic islands and commences in early November. The nest is a mound of mud and vegetation and is placed on an exposed ridge near the sea. During the early stages of the chick’s development, the parents take turns to sit on the nest while the other searches for food. Later, both adults hunt for food and visit the chick at irregular intervals.