Latin name: Lugensa brevirostris

Population: It has a large global population estimated to be 200,000 individuals.

Cites classified: Least Concern (IUCN, 2008)

Where found: The Kerguelen Petrel are circumpolar right from the sub-Antarctic region down to the pack ice. Kerguelen Petrels breed colonially on remote islands; colonies are present on Gough Island in the Atlantic Ocean, and Marion Island, Prince Edward Island, Crozet Islands and Kerguelen Island in the Indian Ocean.

Wingspan: 80-82 cm

Length: 33-36 cm

Weight: 357 g

Mating/Breeding: The Kerguelen Petrel breed in burrows on level or gently sloping ground. The burrows are usually sheltered from prevailing winds. They lay one egg in October that is incubated by both parents for 46-51 days. After hatching the chick fledges after 59-62 days.

Eggs: White. The egg is unusually round for the family.

Hunting Habits: The Kerguelen Petrel take their food by surface-seizing and dipping.

Feed on: Cephalopods, some fish and crustaceans.

Threats: The Kerguelen Petrel are not globally threatened, but many of them are taken by cats, rats and skuas.

Colour/Looks: The Kerguelen Petrel is uniformly dark on the upper parts and slightly lighter below, with plumage so shiny that it appears to have white or silvery patches on it. The birds’ large head and steep forehead give them a hooded appearance.

Interesting Trivia:

  • Also known as White-Headed Fulmar
  • The species has been described as a “taxonomic oddball”, being placed for a long time in Pterodroma (the gadfly petrels) before being split out in 1942 into its own genus Lugensa (or Aphrodroma). The genus was not widely accepted until 1985, though subsequent research has supported it. The position within the procellariids is still a matter of debate; when it was split away from the Pterodroma petrels it was suggested that it may be a fulmarine petrel, whereas a 1998 study placed the species close to the shearwaters and the genus Bulweria.
  • They will occasionally fly above other tubenoses attending trawlers, but they ignore ships.

More info:

  • Hadoram Shirihai, A complete guide to Antarctic wildlife (2002)
  • David McGonigal & Lynn Woodworth, Antarctica and the Arctic. The complete encyclopedia (2001)
  • Tony Soper, Antarctica. A guide to the wildlife (2000)