Lying on a mattress of moss, feet dangling over a 200 m high cliff, under a grey and windy sub-Antarctic sky, one can hear the footsteps of the wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) as it prepares to take off for its long journey. The wind catches the 3 m long wingspan and lifts the gigantic bird into the air propelling it onto another journey into the stormy Southern Ocean.
Its voyage will be remarkable, lasting many months and circumnavigating the globe. For us the Southern Ocean can be a forbidding, even dangerous, place but for the albatross the stormy conditions are a boon. Their streamlined bodies and their long, narrow wings give them the ability to ride the wind, extracting energy as it rushes over the waves to keep them airborne. So efficient is this that the birds can travel for thousands of kilometers without flapping their wings once!
Much of the bird’s life while on this long journey is a mystery to us. How does it navigate its way around the world? How does it find its food?
This bird is carrying a small satellite linked data logger, which will help answer some of these important questions. The device provides very accurate locations several times a day. Combined with data from an army of other instrumented albatross, seals and penguins, the track from this bird will help researchers from the analyse and synthesis group « RAATD » identify what areas in the vast Southern Ocean are of particular importance to Southern Ocean predators, and guide us in designing new management strategies to protect the bird and its children. for many generations to come.