Antarctic Birds: Antarctic Petrel

Another true Antarctic tubenose is the Antarctic Petrel. It breeds in colonies all around Antarctica, sometimes together with Snow Petrels. They make their nests on steep slopes or cliffs, but also on other snow-free ground. Here they lay one egg and both parents take care of the chick.

Antarctic Petrel; Antarctische Stormvogel; Thalassoica antarctic
Antarctic Petrel in flight

When not at the colony, Antarctic Petrels prefer areas with icebergs or sea ice. These areas are quite inhospitable and remote, which makes that not much is known about this species. On trips to the Antarctic Peninsula, we don’t see many Antarctic Petrels. In fact, many trips go by without any. The best chances seem to be near the Antarctic Sound and in the Weddell Sea side of the Peninsula.

Antarctic Petrels in flight
Antarctic Petrels in flight

In other parts of the continent, the species is much more abundant. On our way from the Antarctic Peninsula to the Ross Sea, we often had large groups of several dozens following the ship. Just like most Antarctic seabirds, they feed on a variety of planktonic species and small fish, which they grab from the surface or with shallow dives.

Antarctic Petrel in flight

Antarctic Petrels are a bit alike Cape Petrels, but with a more uniform brown colour on the upperparts.


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