Albatross Launching Pad on Espanola Island
With a population of 25,000 to 30,000, nearly the entire world population of the adult birds can be found on Española between April and December. They mate for life and perform an elaborate mating dance, a spectacle that can last five days and may include stumbling, honking, and beak-fencing. Waved Albatross pairs produce a single egg each year and share responsibility for its incubation. Their grace in the air is sharply contrasted by their comic clumsiness on land. Lucky visitors will observe Waved Albatrosses wobble awkwardly to the cliff’s edge before launching themselves into the wind to take flight—many of them for the very first time in December. The entire colony leaves Española by January to fish for three months before returning. The young albatrosses will remain at sea for about five years before returning to Española to seek their mate.