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the web of life in southern Africa

Thalassarche bulleri (Buller's albatross) 

Witkroonalbatros, Witkroonmalmok [Afrikaans]; Bullers albatros [Dutch]; Albatros de Buller [French]; Buller-albatross [German]; Albatroz de Buller [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Ciconiiformes > Family: Diomedeidae

Thalassarche bulleri (Buller's albatross)   

Buller's albatross, offshore from Australia. [photo Tobias N. Hayashi ]


Distribution and habitat

Breeds on islands off New Zealand, rapidly migrating in the non-breeding season across the South Pacific Ocean to the west coast of South America. It is a rare vagrant to southern Africa, with two records between 1995 and 2003 off the coast of the Cape Peninsula, Western Cape.


Eats squid, fish, crustaceans, tunicates and carrion, often foraging behind shipping vessels and cetaceans. The New Zealand study by James and Stahl (2000) showed that Buller's albatross in that region eats the following food (percentage occurrence followed by percentage weight are given in brackets):

  • Fish discards from boats (70%, 60%)
  • Fish (naturally caught) (?, 5%)
  • Pelagic tunicates (Thaliacea)
  • Cephalopods (53%, 7%) mainly:
    • Histioteuthis atlantica (20%, < 0.5%)
    • Nototodarus spp. (arrow squid) (34%, 1%)
    • Pinnoctopus cordiformis (20%, 4%)
  • Crustacea (37%, 2%)
  • Other (?, 2%)


Vulnerable, largely due to longline mortalities and storm damage at its Chatham Island breeding colony (linked to global warming).


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

  • James GD, Stahl J-C. 2000. Diet of southern Buller's albatross (Diomedea bulleri bulleri) and the importance of fishery discards during chick rearing, New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 34(3): 435-454. doi: 10.1080/00288330.2000.9516946