British sailing star Ellen MacArthur has just returned from a trip to South Georgia to highlight the plight of the albatross which is heading for extinction, mainly because of unintentional drowning of the birds by "longline" fishing boats. There are several articles about the trip on Ellen's website and more information about the threat to these magnificent birds at Save the Albatross.
Any sailor who has read Coleridge's poem about the fate that befell the Ancient Mariner after he shot the albatross should be in no doubt about why they are precious to us.
And I had done an 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 !
Not to mention that og from Live Sail Die apparently eats albatross poo for breakfast.