Latin name: Diomedea epomophora
Longevity: They might live for more than 60 years.
Population: c.28,000-29,500 mature individuals.
Cites classified: Vulnerable (IUCN, 2008)
Where found: Breeds on Adams, Enderby and Auckland Islands (Auckland Islands group), Campbell Island (99% population), and on Taiaroa Head (Otago Peninsula, South Island), New Zealand.
Wingspan: 305-350 cm
Length: 107-122 cm
Weight: 6.52-10.3 kg
Mating/Breeding: It nests on tussock grassland slopes, ridges, and plateaus. A female Royal albatross lays every other year its egg in mid-November. Both parents will incubate the egg for about 79 days, and rear the young.
Eggs: White egg with reddish brown spots at the largest end weighing 200–510 g.
Hibernation: Many winter in the southwest Atlantic, some off the coasts of South America and Australia.
Hunting Habits: Food taken by surface-seizing and some shallow-plunging. Unlike Wandering albatrosses, they are not habitual ship-followers, but they readily join other petrels to feed on offal discarded from fishing boats.
Feed on: It feeds primarily on squid and fish, supplemented by salps, crustacea and carrion.
Threats: Humans and introduced mammals caused massive reductions in all populations, extirpating the Enderby and Auckland Islands populations by the late 1800s. Pigs and cats still take eggs and chicks on Auckland Island. It is frequently caught by Japanese long-liners in the high seas and small numbers are killed in fisheries in New Zealand waters and off south-western Australia and Tasmania
Colour/Looks: The Southern Royal Albatross has a pure white head and body, usually lacking any marks or grey barring. They have a white back and mostly black upperwings close to the body, with the white spreading outwards from the body along the leading edge of the wing with age. The tail is white, except in the immature, where it is tipped with black. Female Southern Royal Albatross are slightly duller and smaller than males.
- They spend 95% of their lives at sea, flying 90% of the time they are over water. Based on satellite tracking, they travel from 200-500 miles a day and do not hesitate to fly 1,000 plus miles for food. They routinely circumnavigate the entire Antarctic continent, flying a route that takes them to South America, Africa, Australia and then back to Campbell Island.
- It has been estimated that a 50-year-old Albatross has travelled a minimum of 3.8 million miles.
- BirdLife International (2008) Species factsheet: Diomedea epomophora
- IUCN Red List
- Hadoram Shirihai, A complete guide to Antarctic wildlife (2002)
- David McGonigal & Lynn Woodworth, Antarctica and the Arctic. The complete encyclopedia (2001)