Volume 50, No. 2

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First record of a Common Diving Petrel Pelecanoides urinatrix from continental Africa, and a summary of diving petrel distribution in the Southern Ocean


1FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7700, South Africa
2Cape Town Pelagics, Birding Africa, 57 Hill Top Street, Scarborough 7975, South Africa *(


RYAN, P.G., WARD, V.L. & MILLER, S.M. 2022. First record of a Common Diving Petrel Pelecanoides urinatrix from continental Africa, and a summary of diving petrel distribution in the Southern Ocean. Marine Ornithology 50: 211 - 214

Received 07 July 2022, accepted 27 July 2022<

Date Published: 2022/10/15
Date Online: 2022/09/22
Key words: Cape Town, non-breeding distribution, dispersal


Tracking studies show that diving petrels regularly disperse thousands of kilometres from their colonies during the non-breeding season, yet there are relatively few vagrant records of diving petrels. We report the first record of a diving petrel from continental Africa. A Common Diving Petrel Pelecanoides urinatrix was found dead near Cape Town, South Africa, on 03 March 2021. It appeared to be from the sub-Antarctic subspecies P. u. exsul, which is supported by sightings at sea; P. u. dacunhae is not recorded away from Tristan da Cunha and Gough Islands. However, diving petrels are common ~1 500-2 000 km southwest of Cape Town in March, in an area where diving petrels from South Georgia winter. In April, diving petrels—presumably from colonies at islands in the southwest Indian Ocean—are common in Antarctic waters 2 100-2 600 km south of Africa and have been seen within 1 200 km of Africa. The Cape Town bird may have come from either of these populations. At-sea and tracking data show that diving petrels are widespread from c. 45-60°S throughout the Southern Ocean, possibly excluding the southeast Pacific sector.


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