The wandering albatross is known to many as a bird of ill omen from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, but our relationship with these magnificent birds is older and more complex.
With a wing span that can measure up to 3.5 metres in length, it's hardly surprising that the Wandering Albatross has inspired not only awe but a spiritual response from many of us. And whilst Samuel Taylor Coleridge didn't do it any favours when he portrayed the Albatross as a bird of ill omen in his poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, as Brett Westwood discovers in this programme, our relationship with the Albatross is far more complex than this; as we have both caught and eaten them, studied their flight and been so inspired by them, that as one man says "In my next life I'm coming back as a Wanderer". Producer Sarah Blunt.
Professor Graham Barwell
He is also author of Albatross in the Reaktion Book’s Animal series, which “examines how people have interacted with the bird over the last two centuries, from those who sought to exploit them to those who devoted their lives to them”.
When not writing blog posts he enjoys birdwatching and brushing up on his insect identification skills.
He is also involved with a project called Troubled Waters that raises awareness of the plight of the albatross. He also published a book of the same name, which depicts the beauty of the albatross and its struggle to survive.
Professor Richard Phillips
Dr Philip L Richardson
More recently he has been working with radio-controlled glider pilots to see if he can harness their flying capability and the technique of the albatross to develop a high-speed robotic albatross - an unmanned aerial vehicle - that could soar over the ocean on surveillance, search and rescue, and environmental monitoring missions.