Let's make a sandwich! (draike) wrote in wtf_nature,
Let's make a sandwich!

The Wandering Albatross

The article is a bit old (October 2007), but I didn't see this in community before. Actually came out not long before this place existed.

Who would have thought that the wandering albatross flew around the earth randomly with absolutely no plan? Apparently the person who named it.

Scientists used to believe that albatrosses followed a strange mathematical formula when flying around the globe in search of food. Turns out they were wrong. New data suggests that albatrosses have no rhyme or reason to their movements, and indeed are flying long distances completely randomly.

According to this article in the New Zealand Herald, data gathered over ten years ago suggested that the albatrosses followed a pattern called a Levy flight. Sayeth the article, "A Levy flight occurs when a search is conducted in a semi-orderly manner, with clusters of short searches over a relatively small area interweaved between long-distance flights from one region to another. Mathematicians showed this was an optimal strategy for foraging for sparse food."

Nope. They don't. Using sophisticated logging instruments and reviewing the previous research, scientists found that the birds do not conform to the formula as previously thought. Not only that but it turns out the old research into bees and deer saying these creatures followed the Levy pattern was also false.

Ah, yes. So sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes an animal just goes where it feels like going. WHO KNEW? Sorry, scientists, but not everything can be solved by complex math. :)

According to some fishermen, albatrosses look "wicked baked."

I was tempted to throw a "Duuuude..." caption on this, but it really speaks for itself.

And of course, the Obligatory Sir David Attenborough pic. Excellent for a size reference here because that's a CHICK of one of these. Just starting his first molt, iirc.

A few other fun facts about the Wandering Albatross, courtesy of Wikipedia:
- It has the largest wingspan of any living bird, the average span being 3.1 meters (10.2 ft)
- It is capable of remaining in the air without beating its wings for several hours at a time
- This type of albatross is the one responsible for helping coin the phrase "An albatross around my neck." In the days of sail it often accompanied a ship for days, not merely following it, but wheeling in wide circles around it without ever being observed to land on the water. It continued its flight, apparently untired, in tempestuous as well as moderate weather.

Yeah, not only are these birds well-traveled, they're HUGE. Imagine having one of those following your boat for days on end. And it's probably only doing so because there's nothing else interesting at sea for him to look at.
Tags: bird, birds, migration
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