Tristan Albatross (Diomedea dabbenena)


Also known as Gough Wandering Albatross [GWA] (e.g. Tickell 2000). Recently spilt from other members of the Wandering Albatross group.


Adults have a dark upperwing with a pale mark at the base.

A Wandering-type albatross, possibly a Tristan Albatross, joins a group of Spectacled Petrels that are feeding on discards from a pelagic longliner off the south Brazilian shelf in August 1999. The blue water belongs to the warm (22 deg C and greater) Brazil Current. Photograph copyright of Fabio Olmos©, 2000.


Where and When

Breeds on Gough Island (ca. 1000 prs in 1980) and Inaccessible Island within the Tristan da Cunha Group (2-3 prs in 1990) . Global population including immatures or resting breeders estimated at 6,000-7,000 individuals. Classified as ENDANGERED due to very restricted breeding range, limited potential for expansion within known breeding range (Gough Is. is 65 square km). The population is poorly known but thought to be stable or maybe declining because of mortality from longlining (confirmed by band recovery) and injestion of plastics (Reviewed in Gales, 1998.)

Away from the nest, forages across the entire South Atlantic Ocean and to coastal regions off Southern Africa. The  species has been reported off Australia (Smith 1997).


Many thanks to Fabio Olmos for allowing me to use his photograph.


Gales R. (1998) Albatross populations: status and threats. In 'Albatross Biology and Conservation'. (Eds. Robertson, G. and Gales, R.) Chp 3, p 20-45. Surrey Beatty and Sons Ltd.

Ryan, P.G. (2000) Separating albatrosses: Tristan or wandering? Africa Birds and Birding 5(4):35-39.

Ryan, P.G., Cooper, J. and Glass, J. P. (2001) Population status, breeding biology and conservation of the Tristan Albatross Diomedea [exulans] dabbenena. Bird Conservation International 11: 35-48

Smith, L. E. (1997) Gough Island Albatross: A first for Australia. Southern Oceans Seabird Study Association Newsletter 16: 5

Tickell, W. L. N. (2000) Albatrosses. Yale University Press.

Copyright © 2002 All rights reserved. Angus Wilson

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