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By Terence Lindsey

· Illustrated and available consultant to this distinctive aviatorDespite their iconic cultural prestige, genuine albatrosses are mostly restricted to the sector stated by means of early mariners because the “Roaring Forties” and the “Furious Fifties”, differently often called the Southern Ocean. the only such a lot distinct attribute of those birds is they journey storms. other than a couple of shut kinfolk one of the petrels and shearwaters, they're the one animals (of any type) that do that. They don’t sidestep storms, or flee them, they climb aboard and experience them. The meteorology of the Southern Ocean is so severe that the sector may well kind of be seen as primarily one huge, immense, never-ending hurricane. For any non-aquatic animal, this attribute makes the Southern Ocean approximately as inhospitable because the polar wastes or the main severe of deserts. To all however the albatross, that is.This paintings outlines the lifestyles histories of those outstanding birds, and explores a number of the major recommendations and strategies that experience developed to allow them to accomplish mastery of 1 of the main opposed areas on the earth.

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However, it was also widely recognised that weight estimates might be heavily biased in favour of larger prey because the bigger the squid the bigger the beak, and these therefore last longer in the albatross gut. Accepting that albatrosses mainly eat squid, the next reasonable question to arise is, are those squid alive or dead when the albatross swallows them? Are albatrosses basically hunters or scavengers? Nobody knows for certain, but most are plainly both. However, a surprising body of indirect evidence can be marshalled to illuminate the question.

At the southern margin of the Southern Ocean, hard up against Antarctica itself, in a feature known as the East Wind Drift, a strong countercurrent flows westward. At the western margins of the deep embayments of Antarctica this current is deflected northward to form huge clockwise ocean gyres, notably in the Ross, Bellingshausen and Weddell seas; these gyres of very cold Antarctic water locally influence surface conditions nearly as far north as 50°S latitude. Similarly at the northern margins of the Southern Ocean there are counterclockwise (anticyclonic) gyres that act to deliver warmer water from the north, penetrating far into the Southern Ocean itself.

This species may well be the most numerous animal on Earth, with a total biomass approaching half a billion tonnes. Krill spawn in the surface layers of the open ocean, and the eggs sink to a depth of several hundred metres, where they hatch. The minute young rise slowly back to the surface, developing as they go and reaching the surface about a month later. Krill are gregarious, but their behaviour is so complicated that it has proved necessary to develop a whole series of technical terms to categorise aggregations by size and persistence.

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