© Paul F. Donald

Seabird Species

Small Petrels

Tubular nostrils give these species a strong sense of smell.

Small petrels are a group of seabirds that belong to the order Procellariformes. They are globally distributed and pelagic, meaning they catch their prey in the open ocean.  

Large tubular nostrils on their bills give them a strong sense of smell – a rarity among birds.

This group of 19 species consists of seven Prions, five Diving-petrels two Bulweria petrels and five species that are each in their own genus: the Blue, Kerguelen, Cape, Snow and Antarctic Petrel. The most recently recognised species is MacGillivary’s Prion (Pachyptila macgillivrayi) has a highly restricted distribution. Most of the population breeds on Gough Island in the South Atlantic, with a small population also breeding on Roche Quille, a rocky stack near Île Saint-Paul in the French Southern Territories. On Gough, breeding success is regularly close to zero, due to predation of the chicks by invasive house mice. Conservation efforts for this Endangered species focus should therefore focus on eradicating invasive mice from Gough Island.  

In The Seabird Tracking Database:
Colonies: 21
Tracks: 1032
Points: 640967
Data range: 1999 – 2021
Data holders: 21
Species Tracked

Spotlight species: Cape Petrel

Cape Petrel
© Eric J. Woehler

One of the most common seabirds in the Southern Ocean, and a common company for sailors and other oceanic travellers. The Cape Petrel (Daption capense) the only member of its genus and has a very distinctive spotted pattern, easy to tell apart from other seabird species that tend to follow the vessels at the same southern latitudes. They are highly pelagic and can be found feeding around Antarctica’s shelf during the breeding season, but also in much lower latitudes during the winter, as far as Angola and the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. 

Please view this page on a desktop computer to see our interactive species colony map.

Tracked colonies of Small Petrels

Use the map below to explore seabird colonies around the world.

Thanks to our data contributors: Brendon Dunphy; Christopher W. Jones; Francis Zino; Jacob Gonzalez-Solis; Jeroen Creuwels; Johannes H. Fischer; Jose Manuel Arcos; Jose Pedro Granadeiro; Manuel Biscoito; Maria Ana Dias; Paulo Catry; Peter Ryan; Richard Phillips/BAS; Vitor Paiva