I’ve always had a love affair with the ocean.
First, it was swimming as a young girl with my dad to backline way past the other bathers. Only once did we get into trouble when lifeguards had to haul us out. It was more embarrassing than frightening.
Then it was scuba diving. Although I no longer dive, to this day I can look out onto the ocean and “see” the world below. Beautiful coral, colourful cute fish, amazing starfishes and tiny nudibranchs to mention a few. No words describe swimming with a friendly whale shark at Sodwana or listening to the squeaking dolphins swimming around you in Mozambique.
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross competing with White-chinned Petrel for a meal
My favourite Pelagic bird is the Albatross
My love affair has now turned to pelagic birds which spend most of their lives on the wing. They glide effortlessly over the oceans for months, sometimes years, without ever coming to land.
Out of all of them, my favourite is the wonderous Albatross.
Worldwide there are 22 species of which I’ve seen seven and been able to photograph 5.
The very first albatross I saw was an Indian Yellow-nosed off Durban. They’re 75-80 cm in height and weigh almost 3 kgs. Their wingspan is a spectacular 2 metres.
I thought they were huge.
That’s until I saw the Wandering Albatross. This astounding feathered giant has the largest wing-span of any bird today – 2.7 to 3.5 m. That’s double the height of a man. Being 1.25 m in height and weighing 8.3 kg’s, they’re ginormous. I’ve only ever seen them three times, every occasion was spectacular.
The best about albatrosses is watching them soar over the waves. They come in low over the ocean and then veer off gliding up before turning and coming down again. There is no effort, they don’t even flap their wings. In my opinion, these birds have perfected flying.
After so many pelagic trips these past few years, I’ve lost count of how many albatrosses I’ve actually seen. Yet, I am still spellbound watching them fly.
Sadly, Albatrosses are amongst the most threatened groups of birds on our planet. Commercial fishing is their greatest threat.
If an albatross (or any pelagic bird, even turtles) get caught on the long-line hook while diving for food, they drown.
Just like all our sea creatures, they’re also affected by the mountains of plastic littering our oceans.
World Oceans Day 8 July
What’s your favourite creature found in or around the ocean? Perhaps the turtle, whale, dolphin or the clownfish (Nemo)? Maybe the humble crab? Whatever it is, know it’s being threatened by our irresponsible behaviour and attitude toward our beautiful planet.
With World Ocean Day coming up on 8th June this year, give these magnificent creatures some thought and the dangers facing them.
How you can Help
- Millions of seabirds, not only albatrosses, but turtles, sharks, dolphins and whales as well, die due to bycatch (creatures trapped by commercial fishing nets during fishing for a different species and discarded). Ensure you buy seafood that is clearly marked as sustainable
- Live by the motto: Reuse, Recycle, Reduce. Make sure your waste doesn’t end up in the sea.
- Share in making everyone aware of the crisis our oceans our oceans are facing. (Please feel free to share this post with anyone you feel is concerned about the dire straits our ocean creatures are in).