Meaning of Albatross


It called albatrosses to a seabird that is found mostly in the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. This animal, whose feathers are white, is characterized by its large wingspan.

Albatrosses are the family known as Diomedeidae and are divided into four genera and more than twenty species. At a general level, all of them coincide in their good flight capacity and that they feed on fish, krill and other aquatic species.

It is worth mentioning that the total number of species that make up the Diomedeidae family has not yet been resolved, and this gives rise to three different lists: those that most albatross species recognize are Birdlife International and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).), whose number is twenty-two; on the other hand, there are authorities that only accept fourteen of them, while for the American ornithologist James Clements, who died in 2005, the limit is thirteen.

If we take into account the taxonomy accepted by IUCN, we are faced with four genres, whose names are Diomedea, Phoebastria, Thalassarche and Phoebetria; the latter consists of only two species, while Thalassarche contains ten. Since this information depends on the point of view, that is, on the appreciations of each student of the subject, it is common to find certain differences when going from one source to another; for example, some species of the genera Phoebastria and Thalassarche may appear under Diomedea.

Let’s see the main characteristics of a species of each genus:

* Diomedea exulans: its common name in Spanish is wandering or traveling albatross, and it is the first albatross to have been described, in addition to the most widespread species. Its height can reach 1.3 m, and its wings can have a wingspan of up to 3.5 m (although an individual that reached 3.7 m has been recorded). Its beak, on the other hand, is around 20 cm long, the largest of all albatrosses;

* Phoebastria irrorata: also known as waved albatross, it is the only species that lives in the tropics. It is known that it breeds only in one of the Galapagos islands, Hispaniola, and that it makes its nests in lava areas;

* Thalassarche melanophrys: the black-browed albatross formerly belonged to the genus Diomedea. Their wings are approximately a third shorter than those of the previous two, although this does not prevent them from being skillful gliders. In fact, they are capable of flying for long periods;

* Phoebetria fusca: it is called smoked albatross and its habitat is all the oceans of the southern hemisphere. Compared to the three aforementioned species, its wings are the shortest, since they do not exceed 2 m. The smoky chestnut color of its feathers has given rise to its name.

These birds form colonies, creating their nests on remote islands. Their behavior is monogamous: they establish couples that they maintain throughout life. Another characteristic of the albatross is that, in general, they breed in the same colony where they were born.

Albatross colonies often become tourist attractions as many people enjoy observing these animals. Among sailors, it is often said that albatrosses bring good luck or that the souls of those who died on the high seas inhabit these animals. Anyway, in ancient times it was common for sailors to catch albatrosses to eat them.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are nine species of albatross in danger of extinction and another eight in a state of vulnerability. This means that more than half of the albatross species are at risk of disappearing.

Albatros, lastly, is also the name of a former aircraft manufacturer (Albatros Flugzeugwerke), a Venezuelan airline (Albatros Airlines), and an aerospace project that, in the 1970s, existed in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.