Albatrosses Running in Circles

Since albatrosses are in the same family as seagulls who stamp on the ground to imitate rain, which draws their favourite food, worms, to the surface, this article fits with their family behaviour. This is by Tom Bawden in the i paper:

Albatrosses secure much of their food using an extraordinary technique which involves furiously spinning around in circles on the ocean surface, often for hours on end, a leading animal expert has discovered.

Bizarre as it may sound, there is method in this madness. The movement causes all the tiny bioluminescent (light-emitting) animals in the area to put on their brightest show, which attracts squid, a favourite food of the albatross. Rory Wilson, professor of aquatic biology at Swansea University made the discovery as he sifted through reams of data on a wide variety of creatures, captured using state-of-the-art electronic tag.

“It’s so exciting to open a novel written by an animal and to be the first person to rad that novel,” Professor Wilson told the audience at the British Science festival in Swansea, as he unveiled his findings.

“Albatross are fantastic flyers and they feed on squid. But imagine a bird a bit like a goose and consider that squid are very cool: they’re fast, they’re slick, and so the general belief was that the albatross would only bee feeding on dead squid. But when we put feeding sensors on ([albatrosses] we discovered that they’re sitting on the water during he night. Everyone thought they were just sleeping but it transpires that on some dark nights and in some places they swim in crazy circles, round and round in one direction and then the other. and they do this for periods of between 40 seconds and 7 hours continuously.” And all that time, he added, they’re guzzling on quid drawn by the bioluminescence.

I am surprised their main source of food is squid – I’d have thought they needed lots of energy for their long distance migrations, and they are big birds. Squid has always struck me as a low fat food, so I would have thought would provide little energy.

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