This page contains enriched content visible when JavaScript is enabled or by clicking here. Skip to Main Content


I remember the first albatross I ever saw. It was during a prolonged gale, in waters hard upon the Antarctic seas. From my forenoon watch below, I ascended to the overclouded deck; and there, dashed upon the main hatches, I saw a regal, feathery thing of unspotted whiteness, and with a hooked, Roman bill sublime. At intervals, it arched forth its vast archangel wings, as if to embrace some holy ark. Wondrous flutterings and throbbings shook it. Though bodily unharmed, it uttered cries, as some king's ghost in supernatural distress. Through its inexpressible, strange eyes, methought I peeped to secrets which took hold of God. As Abraham before the angels, I bowed myself.” – Moby Dick. Chapter 42.

The Bible speaks of many birds, from the magnificent eagle to the humble sparrow.  All have their own beauty, and are testament to God’s creation plan.   Many people secretly long to ride the wind as the eagle does, to look down upon the earth and to perch on the majestic mountain-top.  There is much to be admired in the eagle.

However, I make the case for the albatross. 

Albatrosses are awkward, ungainly birds on land, seemingly without grace.  But the grace is there, if seen in the right setting.  That setting is not the craggy mountain-top, but the sea.  One of the first things to note, is that “Albatrosses spend nearly their entire lives on the wing.” -- Lindsey, T. (2008). Albatrosses. CSIRO Publishing.  Albatrosses have been known to travel 10,000+ miles in a single journey.  They spend the majority of their lives at sea, only coming to shore to mate and rear their young.

“The most distinctive characteristic of albatrosses is that they ride storms. They do not evade storms, or flee them, but climb aboard and ride them - effectively throughout their lives.” --

Fierce winds that would make other birds seek shelter are a necessity for albatrosses.  Without wind, albatrosses cannot fly.  In strong winds, they apparently perform a technique known as ‘dynamic soaring’, rather than relying on the thermal updrafts utilized by land birds.  With strong winds, albatrosses can maintain flight day after day, without seeking land.

”Albatrosses have been tracked making almost ruler-straight trips from distant foraging areas to their nests. Because the birds maintain their course day and night, in cloudy weather and clear, scientists believe they use some kind of magnetic reckoning to fix their position relative to the earth's magnetic field.” --

So, I make the case for the albatross.  In times of adversity, the greatest storms in life, I would seek the calmness of the albatross, always able to rise with the wind, to ride the storm, and yet not be buffeted to-and-fro.  To maintain course, to fix my position, to find a way to the destination that God intends for me.

by C.R.

Related Resources