amsterdam albatross
Beach Birds, Birdwatching Information

Amsterdam Albatross – World’s Rarest Seabird

amsterdam albatross tshirt

What if the only place you could get intimate with your partner was in a room full of everyone you’d ever met?

Added to that, your love lair is laced with dangers everywhere.  There are predators out to get you, and your precious environment is being destroyed. 

You’re forced to put on a brown suit the entire time.  You only get the chance to do it once every two years anyway and you had to fly miles and miles every time to get there.

Might put you off your stroke a tad?

This probably wouldn’t do wonders for your self confidence, and there probably wouldn’t be very many babies born.


World’s Rarest Seabird – The Amsterdam Albatross

Albatros_d'amsterdam

When they are born, you have to go on epic missions to feed them, which consist of flights over a thousand miles.  

Quite a long way to get formula milk!  Little wonder they’re not born very often, and the mortality of babies born is high.

Welcome to the world of an Amsterdam Albatross, one of the world’s rarest, most threatened types of sea birds, not to mention one of the most threatened creatures – period. 

At the present time of writing, there are only about 18-25 breeding pairs left in the world.

Albatros_d'amsterdam_poussin

Like most Albatrosses, they mate for life, so there probably isn’t the chance for any extra marital nookie, and not surprisingly, the species is in rapid decline.

Unable to start breeding until they reach the ripe old age of nine, the Amsterdam Albatross is then cursed to have to wait two years until the next chance comes along.

As previously mentioned – it has already flown considerable distance – and then has to contend with a myriad of dangers.


Amsterdam Island

The only place on earth this rare, but magnificent, bird can manage its nuptials, is on Amsterdam Island in the South Indian Ocean.

We are assuming that they come a long way to have the chance to breed, but because this species is so rare, relatively little is known about its whereabouts when away from the breeding ground.

However, sightings have been made in Australia and South Africa.

There are approximately only 70-90 mature birds left on the planet, and a total population of  approximately 170.


Threats

Dangers that these birds encounter range from the introduction of cats on the island, which have subsequently turned feral, to something as innocent as cows.

This is not because the cows themselves are a threat, but because their presence on the island has resulted in the trampling and destruction of vegetation of the breeding ground, which is not all that big.

threats to amsterdam albatross

It is not only just one island where they can breed, but one specific region of that island.  

The area is roughly equivalent to 2.7 square miles on which they can reproduce.  

When they were first studied, there were a mere five breeding pairs found, but conservation efforts have helped bolster these numbers up to twenty five pairs – phew!

 There is the hazard presented by long line fishing, which kills tens of thousands of sea birds a year, including all types of albatrosses. 

Here’s a video showing long line fishing.  

We’re not saying these guys don’t care about the Amsterdam albatross, but it does show what long line fishing is.

These fishing methods are employed primarily to catch tuna, but end up catching these poor albatrosses as well.  

With some thought, this need not be the case, as bird scaring tactics have proven to assist, as well as weighting the bait to make sure that the hooks are out of reach at the depth that an albatross can dive.

avian cholera

But fishers need to be persuaded to take these concerns seriously.  It is certainly something to think about when planning your next fish supper, anyway.

Disease – notably avian cholera – also plays its part in the problems they face, as well as the bacterial infection erysipelas.  

It is thought that these two diseases caused up to 74% of chick deaths, back in a study conducted in 2001.

All this is before any other types of human impact comes into play.  

These come mainly from pollution, with birds swallowing foreign objects that float on the sea or wash up on the shore, which becomes stuck in their gullets.  

There are also threats from mice, pigs, dogs, rats and other species.


Amsterdam Albatross – Procreation

Amsterdam albatross, Amsterdam Island, Indian Ocean

We’re back to the other problem, actually getting it on together.  

Perhaps it’s hardly surprising after flying thousands of miles and then having to effectively wait one’s turn for a chance at the shag pad, that it might prove difficult for this bird to even get off the starting blocks in the first place, in order to mate.

It comes less often than Christmas, and then is over in a flash.  

Perhaps not unfamiliar to some of us, it comes with epic never ending toil and more air miles than even the most frequent flyer can notch up.

It is more in the trials and tribulations it faces, after a chick has hatched, that seems to be the main problem for the continuation of this species.


How To Spot One

white capped albatross

To be honest, your chances of spotting one of these beauties is probably low or close to zero.

With their sole breeding ground located in the middle of the South Indian Ocean, on Amsterdam Island, they are roughly parallel to the south coast of Australia.

Unless you are around that area of the globe, finding one is probably unlikely.  This is a pelagic bird, which spends nearly all its time out at sea, when it is not breeding.

Sightings have been made in Australia, New Zealand and the southern part of the coastline in South Africa.

If you are lucky enough to be within spitting distance of any of these regions, here is what to look out for.


Vital Stats

wandering albatross

NAME: DIOMEDEA AMSTERDAMENSIS
NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: WANDERING ALBATROSS
SIZE: 42- 48 INCHES/107-122 CMS
WINGSPAN: 110-130 INCHES/ 280-340 CMS
WEIGHT: 11-18 POUNDS/ 4.8 – 8 KG
LIFESPAN: 30-50 YEARS
BREEDING GROUND: AMSTERDAM ISLAND
AGE BEGIN BREEDING: NINE YEARS
BREEDING FREQUENCY:  BIENNIAL
INCUBATION TIME: 80 DAYS

Amsterdam Albatross

NUMBER OF CHICKS: ONE PER SEASON
BREEDING PLUMAGE: MAINLY BROWN
FACE: WHITE
BILL: MAINLY PINK WITH DARK EDGES
BREEDING TIME: FEBRUARY TO MARCH
FLEDGE TIME: 230 DAYS//JANUARY TO FEBRUARY
FOOD: SQUID, CRUSTACEANS, FISH    
STATUS: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED


Check Out These Albatross Videos

Feature Picks – Best Birding Binoculars

Skygenius 8X21 Small Compact Lightweight Binoculars For Concert Theater Opera Mini Pocket Folding

 

Buy On Amazon

Cayzor 12X42 Binoculars For Adults Compact Hd Clear Weak Light Vision Bird Watching – Professional

 

Buy On Amazon

Nikon 7576 Monarch 5 8X42 Binocular (Black)

 

Buy On Amazon

Wingspan Optics Wingcatcher Hd 8X42 Professional Binoculars For Bird Watching

 

Buy On Amazon

You may also like...