Epic flight of a albatross

Picture of an albatross bird.

The wandering albatross, famed for its ship-following flight, has long fascinated seafarers.

The bird’s three-yard [3 m] wingspan contributes to its graceful, seemingly effortless ability to glide.

Large webbed toes support the bird when it is standing; when it is flying, they provide flight control, acting as a rudder, as they project beyond the bird’s short tail.

This bird, often weighing almost 20 pounds [9 kg], has an impressive take-off procedure.

The New Larousse Encyclopedia of Animal Life states:

“The take-off of an Albatross is aerodynamically similar to that of a seaplane. Stretching out its neck and spreading its wings, it paddles at full speed into the wind with its webbed feet. Soon the bird’s breast is out of the water with only the feet beating the surface. The moment it is airborne the Albatross resumes its aerodynamic shape, neck retracted and undercarriage drawn up.”

This master of the turbulent atmosphere between latitudes of 40 and 60 degrees south nests on isolated islands.

From there it forages great distances for food.

But how far does it roam?

Picture of a flying albatross bird.

Scientists fitted tiny transmitters to six male wandering albatross that nested in the southwestern Indian Ocean.

Using satellites to track them, the researchers were amazed to find that the albatross traveled between 2,250 and 9,375 miles [3,620 and 15,090 km] at speeds of nearly 50 miles per hour [80 km/hr]. In just 33 days, these seabirds clocked 10,000 miles [16,000 km], about seven times farther than previously believed possible.