Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross (Thalassarche chlororhynchos)

Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross, close-up of side of head
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Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross fact file

Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross description

GenusThalassarche (1)

A relatively small albatross, the Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross is named after the yellow streak ending in a pink tip along the top of the bill. The head is grey with a white cap, and the upperparts are blackish-grey. There is a white ring around the neck and this white colouration extends across the underside. The underwings are white, and are tipped with a narrow black edge. The sexes are alike, but juveniles have an entirely white head and black bill (2).

Length: 81 cm (2)
Wingspan: 2 m (3)
2.2 kg (3)

Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross biology

Adults arrive at their breeding colonies between late August and early September, where the female lays a single egg in a nest built on a pedestal of mud. Part of a monogamous pair, both the male and the female contribute to the care of the egg and the hatchling, taking turns to incubate the egg and provide the chick with regurgitated food. The chick fledges in April and May, but do not breed until, on average, the age of ten (3) (4).

An agile bird, the Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross often scavenges at fishing vessels and overcomes its size disadvantage by manoeuvring close enough to the boat to retrieve scraps thrown overboard. It will also steal prey from white-chinned petrels and makes use of the hunting tactics of tuna and cetaceans by plunge-diving for the fish they drive to the surface. Its diet consists of fish, crustaceans, squid and fishery by-catch (3).


Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross range

The Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross breeds on Gough Island and the islands of the Tristan da Cuhna archipelago in the Southern Ocean. In the non-breeding season it is found throughout the South Atlantic Ocean and has been recorded off the coast of Argentina, Brazil and the west coast of southern Africa (2). It occasionally reaches Australian waters (4).

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Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross habitat

Breeds in lush, dense vegetation from coastal plateaus up to elevations of about 500 metres (5), and is found out in the open ocean during the non-breeding season, in warmer waters than most albatross species (3).


Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross status

The Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1) and as Vulnerable on the Action Plan for Australian Birds (4).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross threats

As a scavenger of fishing vessel bait, the Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross is suffering population declines as a result of longline fishing. Longlining is mainly used to catch tuna and swordfish by releasing a line of baited hooks that sink to the appropriate depth for these fish. Many seabirds dive for the bait before it has sunk, becoming caught on the hooks and drowning as the line reaches its final depth. The Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross attends trawlers off the coast of south-eastern Brazil and the west coast of southern Africa (2). It also suffers losses as a result of collisions with cables on trawl vessels (6).


Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross conservation

The Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross is monitored on Gough Island, which is both a nature reserve and a World Heritage Site. A population census was carried out in 2000/2001 and was repeated in 2004. Remote tracking has also been used in order to determine the distribution of these birds at sea. The information obtained will be used to assess the overlap between the birds and longline fishing operations. Longline fishing is controversial and techniques to reduce the seabird catch have been suggested, such as weighting lines to sink them more rapidly, and setting them at night (2). A Threat Abatement Plan has been put into action by the Australian government, which proposes to promote public awareness of the conservation needs of albatrosses and to reduce the by-catch of this species and other albatross species (6).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For further information on albatrosses and their conservation see:



For more information on this and other bird species please see:



Authenticated (15/05/07) by Ross Wanless and Andrea Angel, Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology.



In the fishing industry, the part of the catch made up of non-target species.
A group comprising all whales, dolphins and porpoises.
Diverse group of arthropods (a phylum of animals with jointed limbs and a hard chitinous exoskeleton) characterised by the possession of two pairs of antennae, one pair of mandibles (parts of the mouthparts used for handling and processing food) and two pairs of maxillae (appendages used in eating, which are located behind the mandibles). Includes crabs, lobsters, shrimps, slaters, woodlice and barnacles.
Having only one mate during a breeding season, or throughout the breeding life of a pair.


  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2005)
  2. BirdLife International (January, 2005)
  3. Cooper, J. and Ryan, P.G. (2004) South African National Plan for Reducing the Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries. Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, South Africa.
  4. Boland, C. (2001) National Recovery Plan for Albatrosses and Giant Petrels. Environment Australia, Canberra.
  5. Wanless, R. (2007) Pers. comm.
  6. Garnett, S.T. and Crowley, G.M. (2000) The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. Environment Australia, Canberra.

Image credit

Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross, close-up of side of head  
Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross, close-up of side of head

© Peter Steyn /

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