By Josh Saunders
A wildlife photographer has revealed the terrifying ‘SCREAM FACE’ of the Black-browed Albatross as it bears its ‘teeth’.
Alex Macipe, 49, captured the bird opening-wide to reveal rows of shocking serrated sharp points within its beak called the tomia.
The male used the signal as a defence mechanism to protect his nest from other albatrosses, as he waited for a female.
The Black-browed Albatross spend five to eight years at sea, after their feathers develop waterproofing, and only return to land to mate in the colony where they were born.
To attract a female, the male amasses a mound of mud, excrement, tussock grass and seaweed – and then assembles their love-nest.
Other birds looking for ideal places to entice a mate try to intimidate those with nests in the battle to woo females.
The Falklands are host to more than 75% of the world’s Black-browed Albatross population, many reside at Steeple Jason Island, where the photos were taken.
Alex, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, said: “This albatross was fighting with another, he was a bit nervous, when suddenly another passed by and he opened his wings and mouth.
“There was another albatross passing while this one was waiting for a female when he became a bit anxious.
“When the albatross go out to sea for the first time they spend between five and eight years at sea before coming on land again.
“Albatross chicks feathers don’t develop a waterproof covering keep them warm, so they cannot fly into the sea to find food.
“This means they spend 16 months to a year in the nest eating what its parents bring from the sea, after that they spend between five and eight years at sea.
“They return to the same colony where they were born and wait for the young females to arrive to become a couple.
“The island had the biggest colony of albatross in the world.
“When you have thousands of albatrosses, you have to check which ones are more active and focus on that animal waiting for them to make a certain move.
“It was a very good picture and no so common situations, that have to be very patient for.
“These kinds of pictures are important because it makes me feel that I am helping the wildlife, in the sense that people can know the different species.
“From there they can understand the issues that animal faces in the wild, with Black-browed Albatross it’s fishing nets.
“A lot of these albatross dying when they are caught in big fishing nets in the ocean.”
Conservation efforts on the Falkland Islands that visitors stay four and a half metres away from any nest to avoid disrupting the wildlife.
Often birds like penguins will curiously approach visitors, but for the Black-browed Albatross keeping a distance is vitally important for each creature’s individual survival.
Alex said: “The problem f you get too close is that the animal will be afraid and leave the nest.
“From that you create a reproduction problem for that bird, as they will need to build another nest to wait for the females.
“If one of the males flies away and goes to sea he will lose that place and another albatross may use his nest.”
The sub-Antarctic birds are monogamous, pairing with their mate for life but usually return between once for a premating practice run but not mating until later in life.
Once an egg is laid both parents alternate in incubating it for 70 days, after which the chicks take four months to be mature enough to take their first flight.
The fascinating birds can fly at speeds up to 68mph (110kmph) and while fishing can dive five metres underwater.
There are believed to be more than 1.2million Black-browed Albatross worldwide, with the birds being known to live over 70 years.
Alex said: “The funny thing is that there are no regular services, no plane or ship to get to the island, so we had to go by boat.
“You need good weather to cross into the small islands, it took us one night during very rough seas.
“You see so many things coming into your eyes and your mind, feeling this sensation of just being in nature that is so complete.
“You often don’t understand the meaning of your pictures until you are back at home.
“There are several pairs of albatross kissing with their beaks too, this is a more common situation but a beautiful one too.
“Some of the photographs were used in one of my exhibitions in an Argentinian international airport for three months, so could have been seen by five million people.”
For more of his work visit: www.alexmacipephoto.com.