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Waved albatross

Waved albatross in Galapagos
© Jenny Howard

Common name:

Waved albatross

Scientific name:

Phoebastria irrorata

Spanish name:

Albatros de Galápagos

Conservation status:

Critically Endangered


Average lifespan:

30 years

Average size:

80 centimetres (Length) / 2.2 metres (Wingspan)

Maximum size:

93 centimetres (Length) / 2.5 metres (Wingspan)

Average weight:

3 kilograms

Maximum weight:

4 kilograms


The waved albatross is the largest bird in Galapagos with a wingspan of up to two and a half metres. Both sexes have a white head with a creamy yellow crown and neck while the body is mainly chestnut brown with a white breast and underwing. They have a dull yellow bill which appears too long for their small heads, and bluish feet.  They get their name from the wave-like pattern on the adults’ wings. As with all albatrosses they are exceptional gliders and spend the vast majority of their lives above the open ocean. 

During the non-breeding and chick rearing periods the whole population migrates and can be found between the eastern waters off Galapagos and the coasts between Colombia and Peru. Often they congregate in rafts while sitting on the sea surface. They feed mainly on fish, squid and other invertebrates, frequently scavenging near fishing boats. They often feed at night when the squid swim closer to the surface. They are also known to steal food from other species such as boobies.

Waved albatrosses in Galapagos

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Read more about waved albatrosses...

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Education and outreach

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We asked Sarah Langford, author of Alberto the Waved Albatross, about her experience writing the book and the benefits she has seen from engaging young people with environmental education.
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