Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche chlororhynchos)
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche chlororhynchos)

A single Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche chlororhynchos) was sighted during a pelagic off Wollongong on the 26th July 2014. The cool thing was I was on the boat 🙂 The reason for the excitement is this species has only had 2 accepted BARC (SOSSA website) records in Australian waters, EVER….

Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche chlororhynchos) – Wollongong, NSW – July 14 – Canon 5D MK III & Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L

The Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross breeds on the Tristan da Cunha Group and Gough Islands in the South Atlantic ocean. That is between South America and South Africa with a range between the two. That is a very long way from Australia.

Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche chlororhynchos) - Wollongong, NSW - July 14
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche chlororhynchos) – Wollongong, NSW – July 14 – Canon 5D MK III & Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L

It is possible that the Atlantic YNA is a more regular vagrant than the two records may suggest. The bird is very similar in appearance to the common Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross (See below) which breeds in the Indian Ocean and is a regular visitor to Australian waters.

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche carteri) - Wollongong Pelagic - July 14
Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche carteri) – Wollongong Pelagic – July 14 – Canon 5D MK III & Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L

Identification Features of an adult Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross

1. Dark Grey Eye Patch

The Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross has a distinctive dark triangle in front of its eye. This feature is absent in the Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross.

2. Grey Wash on Head

There is a pale grey wash around the head. It is whiter on forehead and throat. It could be confused with a Bullers Albatross which is a regular visitor to Australian waters.The Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross has a much whiter head and any grey wash is usually confined to the cheeks.

Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross Identification Features
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross Identification Features

3. Rounded Yellow Demarcation on Bill

Both the Atlantic and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross have a distinctive yellow stripe on the top of the bill. The yellow stripe finishes very close to the feathers on the top of the bill. The yellow line finishes in a sharper point on the Indian wheres the Atlantic has a more rounded end.

Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross Identification Features
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross Identification Features

The Jizz

The Jizz of the Atlantic is noticeably different to the Indian with the grey wash giving it an appearance similar to a Bullers Albatross. When I saw it I thought it looked different as did several others on the boat.

Yellow-nosed Albatross Comparison - Indian on the left, Atlantic on the right.
Yellow-nosed Albatross Comparison – Indian on the left, Atlantic on the right.

Be sure to check out the SOSSA website for Pelagic Dates in Australia http://www.sossa-international.org/

Atlantic Yellow Nose Albatross – Photograph Gallery

Photographic Gear Used

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4 comments

  1. Could this be a sign of either or both global warming (in that the Southern Ocean’s surface water might be warmer, thereby somehow being attractive to the Atlantic species and supporting a wider range?) and/or reduced prey for the Atlantic species, thereby necessitating wider foraging trips?

    1. Gday Barb, the ocean has been warming around the South Coast of Australia. We have not had any Cape Petrels for nearly two years which is traditionally a cold water winter bird. I am unsure about the food sources in the Atlantic Ocean. I believe there are probably a few vagrants that possibly get blown off course or follow the food with other Indian Yellow-nosed and end up in Australian waters. Either way it was nice to see this bird and I wouldn’t mind if they start showing on a more regular basis.

  2. Fantastic find, Duade! I agree that at least some AYNAs are out there, but are left undetected. Great shot, too, that 400 f/5.6 is working wonders. I am heading on the Wollongong Pelagic the December; I can’t wait!

    Logan – B.C. Canada

    1. Thanks Logan, yes the 400 5.6 is a great lens for the money and very sharp. You will have plenty of fun when you come down. Duade.

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