Also known as Georgian Diving petrel

Latin name: Pelecanoides georgicus

Population: Several million pairs.

Cites classified: Least Concern (IUCN, 2008)

Where found: The South Georgia Diving petrel is slightly smaller than the common diving-petrel, and is almost identical to it, too. About two million pairs breed on South Georgia, in the South Atlantic and on the Prince Edward Islands, Crozet Islands, Kerguelen Islands and Heard Island in the southern Indian Ocean. In New Zealand, the South Georgia Diving petrel breeds on Codfish Island and formerly bred on the Auckland Islands. The South Georgia Diving petrel disperses to surrounding seas and vagrants have been recorded in the Falkland Islands and Australia. The population of the South Georgia Diving petrel has suffered severely from attacks by cats on some islands – on the Auckland Islands they are extinct because Hooker’s sea lions bulldozed their burrows!

The South Georgia Diving petrel nests in colonies on sub-Antarctic islands. South Georgia Diving petrel breeds on South Georgia

Wingspan: 32 cm

Length: 18-22 cm

Weight: 90-150 g

Mating/Breeding: The South Georgia Diving petrel nests in burrows or crevices within fine screes, flat or sloping, sparsely vegetated ground, or among grass hummocks. The South Georgia Diving petrel lays one egg in October and December incubated for 44 to 52 days. The chicks fledge at 43 to 60 days.

Eggs: White.

Hunting Habits: The South Georgia Diving petrel take their food by pursuit-diving, surface-seizing, surface-diving and pursuit-plunging.

Feed on: Planktonic crustaceans, especially krill and amphipods, as well as small fish and squid.

Threats: On some islands skuas, cats, rats and Weka take chicks and eggs. On Auckland the South Georgia Diving petrel are extinct because Hooker’s sea lions bulldozed their burrows. Cattle and sheep may also trample burrows.

Colour/Looks: Predominantly white below and dark above. The South Georgia Diving petrel has a wide-based bill that tapers in a continuous curve to a point. The South Georgia Diving petrel’s legs and feet are blue.

More info:

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