Shy Albatross Thalassarche cauta
This magnificent flyer is a common non-breeding pelagic visitor over continental shelf off South Africa that spends the majority of its time at sea, soaring on strong winds and resting on the water’s surface. It does both hunting and scavenging, feeding on fish, squid and crustaceans plucked from the ocean and will often gather in flocks behind fishing vessels to scavenge. Finding a trawler is important if you want to have a successful pelagic trip. It often forages in association with other animals.
Breeds on islands off New Zealand and Tasmania, dispersing across the southern Indian Ocean to southern African waters, where it is especially common off the southern and western coast of South Africa and Namibia. It generally prefers water on the continental shelf, while more scarce further out in the ocean.
This one was spotted 40 km east of Durban.Large view
A pair of albatrosses mates for life. They lay a single egg each year which is incubated for about ten weeks. Whilst nesting, the parents are very territorial and will defend their nest aggressively. Both parents participate in rearing the chick for nearly five months before it fledges. The juvenile then spends at least three years at sea before returning to land to find a life-mate. Shy albatross can live for up to 40 years.
Near-threatened, with a world population of approximately 400 000-420 000 individuals, its main threat is longline fishing, which annually can cause the death of up to10 000 birds in southern African waters alone.
They often attain a wingspan of 2.5 m.