The Falkland Islands and South Atlantic
Shearwater, Falkland Islands and South Atlantic

Great Shearwater Puffinus gravis

Great Shearwaters are breeding summer residents on the Falkland Islands. They are large petrels 47cm (19 inches) with a 109cm wingspan. They have dark brown upperparts and a blackish cap and tail. They are mostly white underneath and have a dark hooked beak and pinkish feet. Flight is rapid wingbeats followed by albatross-like glides. In the Falklands they breed on Kidney Island alongside Sooty Shearwaters.

Abroad Great Shearwaters breed at Tristan da Cunha, Gouch Island, Nightingale and Inaccessible. They are exclusive to the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.



  • Sooty-Shearwater



Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus

A medium- sized shearwater with a bulky body,  length 44cm (17 inches), wingspan 105cm, narrow wings. Sooty brown plumage upperparts, with slightly lighter underparts, chin and throat greyer. Whitish underwing.
Sooty shearwaters plunge and dive for food using their wings underwater. Flight is rapid with quick wingbeats between long glides. Food is mainly squid, crustaceans and small fish. They like to follow trawlers where they take fish offal, they are gregarious and can form large feeding groups and rafts when they group on the sea before coming ashore to their burrows at night.
On the Falklands Sooty Shearwaters are summer residents. There is a very large breeding population on Kidney Island and other breeding populations on Beauchene Island, New Island, Sea Lion Island and possibly other small off-shore islands. Birds return to breeding grounds early September, a nest is burrowed in soft tussac peat to around 1-3m (4ft). A single white egg is laid in November and hatches mid- January. Adults leave to return to the sea by late March and young follow their parents to sea by late April.






Sources include: Falkland Islands State of the Environment Report 2008 Otley H, Munro G, Clausen A, Ingham B. A Field Guide to the Wildlife of The Falkland Islands and South Georgia - Ian J Strange, Guide to Birds of the Falkland Islands- Robin W. Woods
Photographic credits: Great Shearwater Andrew M Allport/, Sooty Shearwater Dr Bill Dixon/
Photographs and Images Copyright: The images on this site have been bought under licence or have been used with the permission of their owners. They may not be copied or downloaded in any form without their owner's consent.