Pelagic pain and pleasure

Thankfully I managed to see some magnificent albatross before curling up in pain and knowing that I couldn’t move even if a blue whale was swimming around the boat with an albatross on its head.


Shy Albatross - Kim Wormald
Shy Albatross in flight
Canon 5D Mark III, 100-400mm L IS USM, 1/1600, f/8, ISO 800, focal length 100mm


Despite appearances the albatross in the image above doesn’t have a missing right foot, it is tucked under the ridge that can be seen across its tummy feathers. Shy Albatross are about 1 metre long with a wingspan of up to 2.6 metres. They are found in the waters off south-eastern Australia and can be identified by the diagnostic small black mark in their ‘armpits’, or should that be ‘wingpits’? Their underwings are white with narrow black edging, they have a white crown, a dark brow and a grey bill with a yellow tip. The upperwings and back of the Shy Albatross are dark.

I was ridiculously naive to believe that I would not suffer from sea-sickness but maybe the image above made the pelagic trip almost worth the agony.


Shy Albatross - Kim WormaldShy Albatross
Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f/8, ISO 800, focal length 275mm


Shy Albatross often follow fishing vessels, waiting for bait to be thrown overboard to attract fish. This bait, or berley, also attracts sea-going birds. The sea in the foreground of the image above is smooth from fish oil that has been thrown into the water.


Shy Albatross, shearwaters - Kim WormaldShy Albatross, shearwater species
Canon 5D Mark III, 1/1600, f/8, ISO 800, focal length 235mm


Shy Albatross out-compete most other birds in the hunt for food. They have a loud, guttural call and I watched them fighting and biting each other to get to the fish scraps. The smaller shearwaters had to be very quick to grab any food for themselves. Shy Albatross eat fish, squid and crustaceans. They generally take prey from the surface but also make shallow dives and surface plunges along with occasional deeper dives up to 7.4m below the surface (Reference:

I was able to photograph a few other albatross species before collapsing onto the engine block in a pathetic heap. I’ll share images of Black-browed, Campbell, Yellow-nosed, Buller’s and Wandering Albatross in later posts.

Happy birding and remember anti-sea-sickness medication if heading out to sea, Kim



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