The Eight Albatrosses of Antarctica and the Sub-Antarctic

by Oceanwide Expeditions Blog

Whether you’re bound for Antarctica, the sub-Antarctic, or some combination of both, this entry will give you all the important albatross info as well as where these birds can best be found.

Eight albatross species you might spot in the far south

Our guests are usually wildlife lovers, and bird life in particular often takes a front seat. But while many bird enthusiasts tend to focus on the penguins we encounter, there’s a smaller but equally passionate group that favors the more airborne seabirds. Among this birdwatching subset, the albatross is a species that gets (and deserves) strict attention.

Here we’ll cover the key features of the species you’re most likely to encounter on our southern expeditions. Whether you’re bound for Antarctica, the sub-Antarctic, or some combination of both, this entry will give you all the important albatross info as well as where these birds can best be found.

1. Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross (Atlantic Odyssey only)

As with the Tristan albatross, we only see Atlantic yellow-nosed albatrosses during our yearly Atlantic Odyssey trips. These mollymawks (medium-sized albatrosses) can fly for miles without flapping their wings and are most often spotted around Tristan da Cunha. They may also follow our vessels out to sea, hoping to find morsels in our wake. In fact, Atlantic yellow-nosed albatrosses have few natural predators due to their sea-going pelagic lifestyle.

Photo by Vidar Bakken.

2. Tristan albatross (Atlantic Odyssey only)

Another seabird we only see during our Atlantic Odyssey crossing is the Tristan albatross, which can be easily confused with the wandering albatross. Tristan albatrosses are smaller and have darker-colored backs, however, and are endemic to the Tristan da Cunha archipelago – specifically, Gough Island, where most of the world’s population of Tristan albatrosses are found. This is just one of many exotic species that can be seen on our Atlantic Odyssey trips, which focus on bird life.

Photo by Michael Clarke Stuff [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

3. Black-browed albatross (Antarctica and sub-Antarctic)

These are among the more easily recognized albatrosses, which is fortunate given how many different places we can see them. The Antarctic Peninsula, Ross Sea, Weddell Sea, South Georgia, and our bird-abundant Falklands voyages all give you the chance to see black-browed albatrosses. These impressive seabirds are excellent fliers, so efficient in the air that their heart rate barely rises above resting.

Photo by Martin van Lokven.

4. Grey-headed albatross (Antarctica and sub-Antarctic)

Known as the fastest horizontal flying bird on the planet, the grey-headed albatross has been recorded in flights of nearly 130 kph (80 mph) by Guinness World Records. It is also a mollymawk and nests farther south than any other albatross of that kind. Though the grey-headed albatross can be sometimes seen in Antarctica, we most commonly encounter it during our South Georgia trips.

Photo by Fred van Olphen.

5. Light-mantled albatross (Antarctica and sub-Antarctic)

Also called the “light-mantled sooty albatross,” these seabirds may be seen along the shorelines of the Antarctic Peninsula, though we might also find them farther north. They are incredibly efficient fliers, like most albatrosses, rivaling even black-browed albatrosses in how little energy they expend in the air. Yet for all their winged skill, light-mantled albatrosses are not especially graceful landers, often seen tumbling in the dust when trying to land from too fast a flight.

Photo by Sara Jenner.

6. Sooty albatross (Antarctica and sub-Antarctic)

This albatross also goes by the name “dark-mantled albatross” and is a species we tend to see less often than some of the others on this list. Sooty albatrosses sometimes appear in Antarctica but even more commonly on our sub-Antarctic trips. We might even encounter these dark-feathered seabirds on our Atlantic Odyssey voyages, though this is rarer.

Photo by Erwin Vermeulen.

7. Wandering albatross (Antarctica and sub-Antarctic)

Of all the albatrosses listed here, the wandering albatross and royal (described below) are the species we most often see. Wandering albatrosses are one of the largest birds on Earth and the largest of their genus, Diomedea, having an average wingspan of 3.5 meters (11.5 feet). This helps them to fly for hours without a single flap of the wings, and like some of the other seabirds on this list, they are said to use less energy in flight than when sitting in the nest. We see wandering albatrosses in both the sub-Antarctic and during most of our Antarctica cruises.

Photo by Rinie van Meurs.

8. Royal albatross (Antarctica and sub-Antarctic)

There is some debate as to whether the royal albatross should be divided into two distinct species (northern and southern) or if these are merely sub-species. Whichever the case, you’ll be pleased to know that royal albatrosses are among the more frequently spotted albatrosses of our southern expeditions. Also boasting a wingspan of more than three meters, these seabirds are one of the two largest albatrosses of their genus.

Photo by Fred van Olphen.

Cruceros relacionados

Basecamp Antarctica - Incluye Exploración y cartografía de la Isla de Anvers y la Bahía de Flandes - acampada libre, kayak, raquetas de nieve/senderismo, taller de navegación

Embárcate en una expedición centrada en la actividad que te permitirá cartografiar y explorar la remota isla Anvers y la bahía Flandres

OTL24-22 En este viaje de aventura y multiactividad, visitaremos la isla de Anvers y la bahía de Flandes en la Antártida, donde podrás aprender a trazar cartas y tomar medidas de profundidad mientras exploras en nuestras lanchas Zodiac y kayaks. El camping, los...

m/v Ortelius

El Ortelius

Fecha del crucero:

4 dic. - 16 dic., 2022


8850 USD

Antártida – Viajes de descubrimiento y aprendizaje
Hasta 2450 de descuento

Antártida – Viajes de descubrimiento y aprendizaje

clásico Antártida

HDS23-22 Este crucero le lleva a paisajes maravillosos que se encuentran en uno de los entornos más duros de la Tierra. Conozca a las grandes estrellas de la Antártida, los pingüinos, que se encuentran por miles en una variedad de curiosas especies.

m/v Hondius

El Hondius

Fecha del crucero:

4 dic. - 13 dic., 2022


5500 USD

Antártica – Campamento Base

El mejor viaje de la actividad en la Antártida

PLA24-22 El crucero Campamento Base a la Península Antártica le ofrece una miríada de maneras de explorar y disfrutar de la región Antártica. Esta expedición le permitirá realizar caminatas, utilizar raquetas de nieve, andar en kayak, practicar montañismo e incluso...

m/v Plancius

El Plancius

Fecha del crucero:

10 dic. - 22 dic., 2022


por encargo

Antártida – Viajes de descubrimiento y aprendizaje
Hasta 1800 de descuento

Antártida – Viajes de descubrimiento y aprendizaje

Antártida clásica que incluye la isla Decepción

HDS24-22 Este viaje a la Península Antártica y las islas Shetland del Sur lo lleva a un paisaje de oscura roca escarpada, nieve puramente blanca y una fantástica variedad de vida silvestre. Venga a saludar a las ballenas, focas y miles de pingüinos.

m/v Hondius

El Hondius

Fecha del crucero:

13 dic. - 23 dic., 2022


7650 USD

Islas Malvinas – Georgias del Sur – Antártica

Cumplir al menos seis especies de pingüinos

OTL25-23 Este crucero a las islas Malvinas, Georgias del Sur y Península Antártica es el sueño de los amantes del animales hecho realidad. Las expedición explora una de las últimas regiones indómitas sobre la Tierra – una tierra de bellos paisajes escarpados...

m/v Ortelius

El Ortelius

Fecha del crucero:

16 dic., 2022 - 4 ene., 2023


14250 USD