By: Thomas Coad
Of the numerous seabird species sighted thus far, one that has certainly not lived up to its name is the Shy Albatross.
The Shy Albatross, Diomedea cauta cauta, has made a prominent appearance in our seabird observations aboard RV Investigator and is spectacular to behold. With individuals possessing an average wingspan of approximately 2.4m, this majestic species of bird has graced us with its masterful art of gliding ever so slightly above the waters surface.
Travelling up to 1000 km every 24hrs, the Shy Albatross harvests kinetic energy from the wind at the sea surface and is therefore capable of covering remarkable distances at very little energetic cost.
The Shy Albatross possesses four known nesting sites in Australia, all of which are within relatively close proximity to Tasmania. Generally feeding near shore or along the continental shelf, the Shy Albatross forages for fish at the seas surface and has been known to occasionally scavenge from the back of fishing vessels.
Distinctive from its Albatross relatives, the Shy Albatross can be identified by its white head, relatively narrow black underwing margins and diagnostic black thumbprint underwing.
Seabird ecologists Dr Eric Woehler and Dr Jill Shephard, hope to collect Shy Albatross sightings among the broader collection of seabird spatial distribution and abundance data, to gain greater understandings with respect to how these animals exist within the ecosystem of which they are a part of.