Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophris
This albatross is listed as Endangered because it is estimated to be declining at a very rapid rate. These declines have in part been attributed to the impact of incidental mortality in longline and trawl fisheries with an estimated minimum 5,000 killed per annum across the deep-water hake trawl fishery in specifically south African waters during winter. These magnificent flyers are one of the most marine of all birds, traversing the oceans of the southern hemisphere from the subtropics to polar waters, only returning to land to breed.
The black-browed albatross is predominantly white beneath, with a dark border around the underwing. Above, the upperwing is dark grey and the bird appears as a black and white cross at a distance. The bill is yellow with a darker orange tip and there is a dark eye-stripe, giving the birds their common English name. Juvenile birds are similar to adults but have grey bills and a grey collar, as well as a dusky underwing.
It takes its food by surface-seizing, pursuit-plunging, surface-plunging and surface-diving. It follows boats and is a regular scavenger, stealing prey from other seabirds. Also follows cetaceans. It feeds on fish and krill with some cephalopods and jellyfish.
This one was spotted 40 km east of Durban.
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 over four months before it fledges. The juvenile then spends at least three years at sea before returning to land to find a life-mate. Black-browed albatross can live for up to 70 years.
They often attain a wingspan of 2.4 m.