Saturday 9 June 2012: Restless Soul of a Drowned Sailor
Seafarers once believed that albatrosses carried the souls of drowned sailors, and thought it was bad luck to kill one, a superstition famously illustrated in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. This is a small part of it where Samual Taylor Coleridge describes what happened to their vessel after killing an Albatross for fun:
And I had done a hellish thing,
And it would work 'em woe:
For all averred, I had killed the bird
That made the breeze to blow.
Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay,
That made the breeze to blow!
Nor dim nor red like God's own head,
The glorious Sun uprist:
Then all averred, I had killed the bird
That brought the fog and mist.
'Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,
That bring the fog and mist.
These beliefs may well have been inspired by two characteristics of these large seabirds: albatrosses follow ships for days at a time and they rarely visit land except to breed on remote isolated islands.Where do albatrosses spend time?
Albatrosses are the largest seabirds, skilled gliders that remain at sea for months and slip in and out of ocean troughs with rarely a flap of their long thin wings. As long as there is a wind blowing, an albatross can remain aloft. If the wind stops blowing, however, the birds are becalmed. Their wings are not designed for flapping flight and they cannot maintain flight without the support of air currents. The windy ocean is their habitat-if you hope to see an albatross up close, you're going to have to go to sea in a windy season.
We deserved to see these birds after three days heavy storm in a row. I would not even think of killing one of them. We've had enough wind and storm!