Fr: Albatros à nez jaune
Ang: Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross
All: Gelbnasenalbatros
Esp: Albatros Pico Amarillo y Negro
Ita: Albatro beccogiallo
Nd: Atlantische Geelneusalbatros
Sd: Gulnäbbad albatross
Port: Albatroz-de-nariz-amarelo


Otto Plantema
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Text by Nicole Bouglouan


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Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross
Thalassarche chlororhynchos

Procellariiformes Order – Diomedeidae Family

The Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross is now considered a monotypic species, after being the nominate race of two subspecies, along with the Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross. Both races were split because their breeding ranges do not overlap, and they exhibit some morphological differences.
This species is relatively small. It is very vulnerable to longlines in some areas while it is wandering over the oceanic waters. Numerous birds are killed off the coast of Brazil and South Africa.

Length: 71-82 cm
Wingspan: 180-215 cm
Weight: 1800-2900 g

The adult is a slim bird. Upperwing, mantle and tail are greyish-black, whereas rump and underparts are white. On the white underwing, both leading and trailing edges are black, like the wing tip.

The head is pale grey with white forehead, and conspicuous triangular black eye-patch in front of the eye. The pale grey wash on cheeks and nape creates a hooded effect. We can see a narrow, white crescent behind the eye.

The long, slender bill is black, and shows a narrow, yellow culmen stripe, whereas the nail is pinkish-red. The central yellow stripe does not reach the base of the bill which is surrounded by bare black skin. There is a yellow to pink-orange narrow line at base of lower mandible and at gape (often concealed).
The eyes are dark brown. Legs and webbed feet are pale pinkish or dull flesh.

Both sexes are similar but the female could be slightly smaller overall.
The juvenile has mostly white head with small grey eye-patch (instead of black) before the eye. The grey collar on neck sides and hindneck is indistinct.
The bill is greyish-white with black tip. The yellow culmen is absent and will appear at 1-2 years old.


The Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross is usually more abundant in subtropical and warmer subantarctic waters of South Atlantic and offshore South Africa. This species breeds on Tristan da Cunha group and Gough Island. It is uncommon in the Indian Ocean but it has sometimes reached New Zealand and Eastern Australia.

The Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross is marine and pelagic. It breeds in dense vegetation such as tussock grass and tree-ferns, on slopes or cliffs, and sometimes in rocky, bare areas, usually on remote islands. It occurs from the coastal plateaus up to 500 metres of elevation.
Outside the breeding season, it is usually found in warmer waters than most Diomedeidae species.

The Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross is silent at sea, but the feeding groups often produce a braying cackle while the birds are competing for food.  

The Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross feeds primarily on cephalopods and fish (Sardinops, Engraulis and others), crustaceans and offal.
Most preys are caught by surface-seizing, but it also dives and performs shallow plunges (1 metre deep). It may pursue the prey underwater, using its wings to propel itself. It also feeds at fishing boats and often forages in association with shearwaters and large marine mammals that lead the fish to the surface.

The Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross breeds solitary or in loose colonies or groups. Mates are monogamous with long-term pair-bonds. They perform ritual and typical courtship displays, using stereotyped postures repeated several times. Head-weaving and bill-circling are performed while the tail is fanned. Other displays such as sky-pointing with raised and spread wings are regularly observed. These displays show the mates facing each other and calling.

The Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross disperses over the South Atlantic Ocean after breeding. Birds are recorded off South Africa and Argentina to Brazil, and this species was recently recorded off Surinam (2010) and French Guiana (2012). However, this species is infrequent off E South America and NE Brazil.

Some birds reached New Zealand and Australia (New South Wales) in the Indian Ocean. There are some records from Caribbean Basin, NE Atlantic, Norway, Sweden and possibly Faeroe islands.

The Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross soars and glides for hours and uses little energy. It turns into the wind to gain height and then, it glides while gradually losing height. It repeats this process over and over again.
The Diomedeidae are not well-equipped to maintain sustained flapping flight, and they remain on the water when there is no wind at all. The take-off requires a substantial run-up.  

The egg-laying occurs from mid-September to early October. The Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross breeds solitary or in loose colonies or groups.
They build a large nest, a truncated cone made with mud, grass and moss. This structure may have a diameter of 40-41 centimetres. It is placed on bare, rocky ground, but also among the vegetation.
Before the laying, the birds go to the sea to feed and build up reserves, the female for making the egg, and the male to start the incubation.

The female lays a single white egg. The incubation lasts about 65 days, shared by both adults. They take turns to incubate.
At hatching, the chick has pale greyish to white down. Both parents feed it on regurgitated food. It fledges about 130 days after hatching (April/May). It will be sexually mature at ten years old.

The Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross is still threatened by longline fishing. The birds dive for the baits and become caught on the hooks and they drown. About 900 birds per year are killed off the coast of SE Brazil.
Some mammalian predators such as Mus musculus and Rattus rattus are still present on some breeding islands.
However, conservation measures are currently underway. Gough and Inaccessible Islands are nature reserves. Other measures manage the longline vessel’s techniques, in order to reduce the numbers of killed birds.
The global population is estimated at 14,000 breeding pairs and 21,000/32,000 mature individuals.
The Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross is currently listed as Endangered.