Volume 49, No. 1

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Underwater behavior of Christmas Shearwaters Puffinus nativitatis from Kure Atoll


1Hawai'i Pacific University, 41-202 Kalaniana'ole Highway, Waimanalo, HI 96795, USA (
2Oceanic Institute of Hawai'i Pacific University, 41-202 Kalaniana'ole Highway, Waimanalo, HI 96795, USA
3Pacific Rim Conservation, PO Box 61827, Honolulu, HI 96839, USA
4State of Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, 2135 Makiki Heights Drive, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA


NIMZ, I., RENSHAW, M.A, IACCHEI, M., VANDERWERF, E., VANDERLIP, C., SAUNTER, M., WORCESTER, N. & HYRENBACH, K.D. 2021. Underwater behavior of Christmas Shearwaters Puffinus nativitatis from Kure Atoll. Marine Ornithology 49: 25 - 35

Received 17 April 2020, accepted 09 October 2020

Date Published: 2021/04/15
Date Online: 2021/03/23
Key words: Christmas Shearwater, Puffinus nativitatis, diving, diet, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, seabird foraging behavior


The Christmas Shearwater Puffinus nativitatis is an aquatic, tropical shearwater. While individuals of this species are known to forage by pursuit plunging and diving, there are no published reports quantifying their sub-surface foraging behavior. We obtained diving information from eight chick-rearing Christmas Shearwaters on Kure Atoll during June-August 2017. Over the 33 days during which instruments were deployed, 1521 dives were recorded. Individual deployments lasted three to eight days and were independent of the maximum depths recorded. Individual maximum depths were 10.7-24.1 m, averaging 15.4 m. While the deepest and longest recorded dive reached 24.1 m and lasted 31 s, the majority of dives were < 3.0 m deep (64%) and lasted ≤ 3.0 s (53%). Overall, deeper dives were longer. Almost all diving occurred during daylight, with peak diving activity (13%) occurring between 17h00 and 18h00 (dusk). Genetic metabarcoding identified digested prey items from regurgitations, distinguishing 11 species of fish and squid. This study highlights the way in which this species of concern uses the epipelagic foraging habitat within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.


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