The wandering albatross is known for its ability to fly at great speeds and go long distances with very little effort. This seabird is capable of traveling 10,000 miles (16,093 km) in a single journey and circumnavigating the globe in as little as 46 days. Scientists have long wondered how this fantastic flyer can travel up to 600 miles (966 km) a day without flapping its wings. The secret is its mastery of “dynamic soaring,” which involves gaining height by angling its enormous wings while flying into the wind, then turning and swooping at speeds as high as 67 mph (108 km/hr).
A fast flyer on endangered list:
- The albatross’ lifespan is roughly 60 years and its wingspan is the widest of any bird -- up to 3.5 meters (11.5 feet).
- While the albatross has existed for about 50 million years, all 22 species are now endangered. The birds frequently get caught in baited fishing lines, resulting in 100,000 deaths a year.
- The idiom “having an albatross around your neck" is attributed to the poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In the poem, a sailor brings bad luck to his ship and crew after shooting an albatross. When the ship loses wind near the equator and runs out of water, he’s forced to wear the dead bird around his neck as punishment.