On the Lookout for Albatross

There's a long tradition of sailors offering food to visiting albatross in order to show appreciation for their protection and guidance.

Why does the community have this tradition?:

Before GPS, satellite phones and fast-moving ocean vessels, it must have been both lonely and scary to sail the open oceans for many weeks at a time, not entirely sure where you were or what the next day would bring. Any sign of life would have been a great relief! Albatross are amazing travelers and open-ocean survivors, so it's easy to see why the sudden appearance of an albatross over your ship could be very comforting. It's a connection to life when all you can see is ocean in every direction. 

Is this tradition connected to its environment? How?:

Yes, especially within the South Atlantic Ocean. This region contains the "Roaring 40s", or the area between latitudes 40 degrees and 50 degrees South in the Southern Hemisphere that is well-known for unpredictible and unforgiving weather. (The S.A. Agulhas II is currently at 43 degrees South, and there are massive waves breaking over our bow, rattling the entire ship.) It's daunting to travel through this region in a large, modern ship... I can only imagine what it felt like to sail these waters in a much smaller, wooden vessel. It was probably terrifying! Albatross make their nests throughout the sub-Antarctic islands and can fly great distances, so I'll be looking to the skies as we cross these perilous waters, in search of our good-luck charm to guide us safely to and from the Weddell Sea.

South Atlantic Ocean