|Thalassarche||impavida||PO||Campbell Is, NZ|
Albatrosses are the ‘largest’ birds in terms of wingspan. Royal Abatrosses, for instance, may reach a wing span of almost 3.5m, which make them look like feathered sail plaines. They are also the largest members of the tubenose family. Only the smallest albatross species are equalled in size by the Giant Petrels (Macronectes). Albatrosses occur in all oceans, except the northern part of the Atlantic. In ancient times they were also present in that part of the world, but nowadays only an occasional straggler find its way to the North Atlantic. Most of the 24 species are Southern Hemisphere breeders, only three actually breed north of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean.
Albatross taxonomy is subject of discussion for a long time, and has been at times rather chaotic. Based on external characters: plumage patterns, tail shapes, bill structure (size, organization of the plates and coloration) albatrosses were, until recently, divided in 13-14 species in four ‘natural groups’: the Great Albatrosses, the Mollymawks, the North Pacific Albatrosses, grouped in the genus Diomedea and the Sooty Albatrosses Phoebastria. More recently DNA-analyses supports the division in four distinct groups but the were elevated to a generic status and has led to a splitting into 24 species: Great Albatrosses Diomedea (7 species), the Northern (Pacific) Albatrosses Phoebastria (4 species), the southern Mollymawks Thalassarche (11 species) and the Sooty Albatrosses Phoebetria (2 species). Recently this taxonomy is challenged by who proposed to lump some of the ‘species’ again based on their molecular analysis. Since then the discussion flared up and has not ended yet. Some list six species of Great Albatrosses, including two subspecies of Antipodian Albatross.
|wingspan min.:||210||cm||wingspan max.:||240||cm|
|size min.:||85||cm||size max.:||90||cm|
|incubation min.:||68||days||incubation max.:||73||days|
|fledging min.:||120||days||fledging max.:||140||days|
Video Campbell Albatross
copyright: Peter Fraser
Thalassarche impavida breeds only on the northern and western coastline of Campbell Island (111 km2) and the tiny offshore islet, Jeanette Marie, New Zealand. The total population was estimated to be 19000-26000 breeding pairs, with the most recent censuses in 1995-1997 giving an estimate of 24600 pairs. Numbers decreased steeply between the 1970s and 1980s: one colony declined at a rate of 5.9% per year between 1966 and 1981, and 10.5% per year between 1981 and 1984. However, numbers have been either stable or increasing slightly since 1984,with a 1.8% increase recorded in selected colonies between 1992 and 1997. Its non-breeding range is confined to southern Australian waters, the Tasman Sea and the south Pacific Ocean. Breeding adults forage from South Island, New Zealand, and Chatham Rise southwards to the Ross Sea.