Family Albatrosses (Diomedeidae)

Critically Endangered

Tristan Albatross (Diomedea dabbenena)


French: Albatros de Tristan da Cunha German: Tristanalbatros Spanish: Albatros de Tristán de Acuña

Diomedea dabbenena


, 1929,

South Atlantic, lat. 38° 30’ S, long. 56° W, 100 miles [c. 160 km] off coast of Argentina


Until recently was treated as conspecific with D. exulans, but differs in its smaller size with considerably shorter bill (from published data on males#R, effect size −5.12, score 3); no plumage characters, however, constantly and definitively separate it, although adults generally do not reach the whiteness shown by those of exulans, and there appears to be a higher number of stages before full adult plumage attained#R#R; see also comments concerning plumage difference with latitude under D. amsterdamensis. Level of genetic differentiation reported to be low#R or relatively high#R; one work argues that each form (less D. antipodensis gibsoni) in the exulans group represents “a distinct, evolutionarily important population for which a unique biological history exists”#R on basis of natal philopatry and at-sea distribution patterns. Thus, although present form fails criteria of the scoring system used herein and is treated as a subspecies by some authorities#R#R, it is treated as a species by ACAP (Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels)#R and several others#R#R#R, and, pending further clarification, this view is provisionally and precautionarily accepted here. Monotypic.


South Atlantic Ocean, breeding on Gough I and occasionally Inaccessible I, formerly also on Tristan da Cunha#R.

Descriptive notes

110 cm; male 7300 g, female 6800 g. Huge albatross, very similar in plumage to D. exulans. Bill pinkish with paler tip; eyes dark; legs and feet pinkish or greyish.... read more


Varied mix of croaks, gurgles and whining calls, as well as bill-snaps, clappering and clattering.... read more


Marine and highly pelagic; seldom approaches land except for breeding. On Gough breeds on gently... read more

Food and feeding

Comparatively poorly known; feeds on cephalopods (especially Histoteuthidae squid) and fish, presumably also crustacea, and follows ships... read more


Biennial, starting Nov/Dec with return to colony, egg-laying commences first week of Jan, and chicks mainly fledge in late Jan to early Mar... read more


Ranges more or less throughout the temperate S Atlantic, between 50° W to 15° E, with most (97%)... read more

Status and conservation

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED. Essentially restricted as breeder to Gough I, having become extinct on Tristan da Cunha, although birds were seen prospecting in 1999, and in some... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Tristan Albatross (Diomedea dabbenena). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 22 October 2019).