The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by S.T. Coleridge (1798), has done much to determine the popular conception of the albatross. The family name is derived from the name of the Greek hero of the Trojan War, Diomedes, whom the gods exiled to an isolated island, turning all of his deceased companions into large, white birds.
The preponderance of albatrosses breeding in locations remote from human habitation may indicate that closer populations were historically extirpated by humans. Certainly harvesting of eggs or chicks continues legally or illegally in a few locations today. During the past 250 years since the first naming of an albatross by Linnaeus, these legendary birds have been directly or indirectly exploited at sea and at their breeding colonies by those on boats-