Such courtship is more than just a mere reproductive prelude. It is, without a doubt, one of the most important attractions in Galápagos wildlife, and it only occurs in the months of April, May and June. Finding a mate on Española (Hood) Island is no easy task; the terrain is quite irregular and there's plenty of dry brush from the previous hot season.
Nevertheless, male albatrosses manage to arrive first, and patiently wait for females to arrive. Once together, courtship is an elaborate set of cues given by one individual and followed by the other potential mate.
This orchestrated set of moves is then repeated, but in reverse by the former mate. A series of strange noises that may resemble geese and a set of horn-like sounds can be heard all over the island. Part of the courtship even includes some "bill fencing" (very attractive yellow bills by the way), ending with a superb sky point and a sheer drop of the neck and head towards the back of the wing.
Here, some preening of the primary feather of the wing takes place, and it is all back to where they started. The complete set can last as long as 45 minutes. In our week-long expeditions, the M/V Santa Cruz and the Yacht Isabela II include Española Island, and the nesting colony of the waved albatross. Also, the Friday-Monday expedition of the M/V Santa Cruz will make a regular stop at this unique location.