Wandering albatross in flight

Object Number: 2009.8

The wandering albatross is an iconic sight in the Southern Ocean. Having the greatest known wingspan of any living bird, it is also one of the most far ranging birds.  Wandering albatrosses spend most of their life in flight, landing only to breed and feed. The ICUN lists the wandering albatross as vunerable status.

This wandering albatross specimen (Diomedea exulans) was collected on Bird Island, just off the coast of South Georgia by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) team. Discovered beside a nest with no apparent damage other than a bald patch on its neck. Fortunately the skull, leg and wing bones were intact which allowed the taxidermist Steve Massam to create this wonderful specimen with a wingspan of 2.7 metres.

BAS scientists use satellite-transmitters to study these animals, small enough to place on an albatross, but powerful enough to be tracked by satellite. They show that a wandering albatross may fly as far as Brazil to collect one meal for its chick. This is a journey of 8,000 kilometres and 8 days to deliver 1-2 kilograms of food.