Galapagos Waved Albatross
A unique species that is critically endangered
Information about Galapagos Waved Albatross
The Waved Albatross boasts the largest wingspan of any bird in the Galápagos. The Galápagos Waved Albatross is so-called because of the distinctive wave-like pattern that forms on the adult birds’ wings. Not only is a unique species to the Galápagos, it only breeds on one site on Española Island. These elegant birds mate for life, and there are estimated to be only 12,000 breeding pairs remaining. The species is critically endangered.
Renowned for their unparalleled gliding skills, Albatrosses spend their time at sea outside of the breeding season. During this time the whole population migrates and can be found anywhere from the eastern waters off the archipelago to the coasts between Colombia and Peru. Here they feed on fish, squid and other small marine animals, often scavenging near fishing boats.
It’s this relationship with humans that is their greatest threat. Long-line fishing boats in the Pacific lay out hundreds of miles of baited hooks which attract the birds, and once they try to eat the bait they get hooked and drown after being dragged under. While long-lining is banned within the Galápagos National Park, once the birds leave the area to feed they have no protection.
In the Galápagos on Española, however, they are safe and breed successfully. Pairs of Waved Albatross mate for life, and each season the female lays a single egg on the bare ground. Male Albatross are modern parents, and they take their fair share of sitting on the egg to incubate it for the two months until it hatches.
A wonderful sight is the courtship dance of the Galápagos Albatross. This intricate and intimate activity strengthens the bond between the pair and includes bill clacking, head circling, waddling, and head nodding. During the dance, the birds make a distinctive “moo” noise. On a Galápagos cruise, our expert naturalist guides will make sure that you have the best possible opportunity to observe these rare creatures to make some unforgettable memories.
Interesting facts about Galapagos Waved Albatross
Waved Albatross are the largest seabirds found in Galápagos
Wave Albatross have a beautiful and elaborate courtship dance after which they mate for life
When Waved Albatross chicks leave the nest they fly out to sea and won't return for 6 years
Waved Albatross are critically endangered, and despite efforts their population continues to decrease
Pictures of Galapagos Waved Albatross
Highlights where the Galapagos Waved Albatross can be seen
Gardner Bay is a wonderfully sheltered area on the eastern shore of Espanola Island. It boasts one of the best beaches in the Galápagos, with superb white sand. There is nowhere better on the archipelago to simply sit back, relax, and take in the marvels of the wildlife around you.
The beach here is home to a large colony of Galápagos Sea Lions, who seem to love sunbathing on the beach as much as we humans do! As well as the fun-loving Sea Lions you can also find Galápagos Mockingbirds here. These birds are full of curiosity, and have been known to come and investigate bootlaces, camera straps and other equipment!
The wonderful Galápagos Green Sea Turtle can also often be seen in the shallows here, and along with a large variety of colorful reef fish, this makes Gardner Bay a great place to swim and snorkel.
Suarez Point is on the western tip of Espanola and is one of the most wildlife-packed of all the visitor sites in the Galápagos. After a wet landing on a beach that's frequented by Galápagos Sea Lions you can enjoy a 2 mile hike along a trail that will take you up around the cliffs.
The range of wildlife on show here is simply stunning. This is a great place to view the remarkable Galápagos Blue-Footed Booby as well as their cousins the Nazca Booby. You can also see the rare Waved Albatross at Suarez Point, where they use the cliff tops to launch themselves into the air over the ocean.
Another famous natural feature here is the blowhole. This geological formation funnels the incoming waves into a chamber where it gets compressed and then the air and seawater are forced out at great speed, making a spectacular plume of water shoot high into the air.
Our trips to spot the Galapagos Waved Albatross