The Wandering Albatross, Snowy Albatross or White-winged Albatross, Diomedea exulans, is a large seabird from the familyDiomedeidae, which has a circumpolar range in the Southern Ocean. It was the first species of albatross to be described, and was long considered the same species as the Tristan Albatross and the Antipodean Albatross. In fact, a few authors still consider them all subspecies of the same species. The SACC has a proposal on the table to split this species, and BirdLife International has already split it. Together with the Amsterdam Albatross it forms the Wandering Albatross species complex. The Wandering Albatross is the largest member of the genus Diomedea (the great albatrosses), one of the largest birds in the world, and one of the best known and studied species of bird in the world.
WOW! When I read about one of these I imagined it would look all elegant and graceful – nope! It looks like a powerhouse!
They have the widest wingspan of any LIVING bird. There was once a rival for the title:
“The wandering albatross has the largest known wingspan of any living bird, at times reaching nearly 12 feet. But millions of years ago, there was a bird with wings that dwarfed those of the albatross, researchers now report.”
“The newly named species, Pelagornis chilensis, which lived about 5 million to 10 million years ago, had a wingspan of at least 17 feet.”
Why am I writing about a bird on my trauma healing blog today?
My new absolute MUST-read recommendation for early severe abuse and trauma survivors – especially for those who write or want to write about their life:
Last night I finished reading the copy of this book my friend, Sandy so wisely sent to me as he knew it was important for me in my current trauma writing work. How right he was, and how much I thank him!
Maybe someday I will write an entire book about my ‘take’ on the ‘Endurance’ and the 1914-1916 survival story of adventure it is about (plus so much more) – but to do so would require that I seek and gain permission to reprint parts of that book. I don’t have time for that work or the wait right now. At the moment I am going to write a bit of the text here for educational and informational purposes only – I don’t sell my blog, so here we go.
Click here for information on PBS NOVA on the Antarctic expedition
After spending 497 days stranded on ice floes, the 28 members of the crew make it to rocky shores – but none of this is what I want to really mention right now. It’s this brief passage I must have liked best in the entire book as the safe haven of a shore they have finally found is unreachable as the 6 men in their small boat are forced to continue to traverse the most treacherous sea on earth under the harshest of conditions:
“There was a moment of confusion, then they felt her [their boat, the 22-foot Caird] roll sickeningly to starboard as she fell off into the trough of the sea and they knew instinctively what had happened.
Both Shackleton and Worsley scrambled to their feet and looked forward. The frayed end of the bow line was dragging through the water. The lump of ice was gone – and the sea anchor with it.
Shackleton thrust his head below and shouted for the others to get the jib. They hauled it out, frozen into a rumpled mass. Crean and McCarthy crept forward over the heavily rolling deck, dragging the sail with them. The rigging, too, was frozen and had to be beaten into compliance. But after a long minute or two they got enough ice off the halyards to hoist the jib to the mainmast as a storm trysail.
Slowly, drudgingly, the Caird’s bow once more swung around into the wind, and all of them felt the tension go out of their muscles.
The job of the helmsman now was to hold her as close to the wind as she would go, swinging from one tack to the other. It required constant vigilance, and it could hardly have been more unpleasant, facing into the breaking seas and the piercing wind….
Shortly after noon, as if from nowhere, a magnificent wandering albatross appeared overhead. In contrast to the Caird, it soared with an ease and grace that was poetic, riding the gale of winds [80-120 mile per hour winds] on wings that never moved, sometimes dropping to within 10 feet of the boat, then rising almost vertically on the wind, a hundred, two hundred feet, only to plunge downward again in a beautifully effortless sweep.
It was perhaps one of nature’s ironies. Here was her largest and most incomparable creature capable of flight, whose wingspread exceeded 11 feet from tip to tip, and to whom the most violent storm was meaningless, sent to accompany the Caird, as if in mockery of her painful struggles.” (above cited book copy, pages 234-235)
Reading the book I would think such a visitor would be a blessing, not a mockery. It was blessings like this that enabled me to survive the hell of my abusive childhood.
But I wasn’t there in this story – and it is a whole HELLUVA story.
I don’t, however, believe that this story of endurance has any edge at all over any survival and endurance story infant-child abusive trauma survivors have to tell. I also think it’s about time we told our adventure stories –
But more on all of that later………………
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