Story: Seabirds – overview

New Zealand sooty shearwater migration

New Zealand sooty shearwater migration

After spending the summer breeding in New Zealand, sooty shearwaters migrate to the far north of the Pacific Ocean, where they feed at sea for several months. In the north they are joined by sooty shearwaters from Chile.

It was once thought that in the northern-hemisphere summer, the birds visited a number of feeding grounds off the coast of Japan and Alaska, and then down through California, before returning south. However, recent electronic tracking shows that most birds head east or south-east from New Zealand before flying north. They reach one of the three feeding areas, where they stay until it is time to return south. Some birds go to locations off Japan and the Kamchatka Peninsula (in the far east of Russia), and then return to New Zealand without approaching the American continent. Others feed off the coast of Alaska or California.

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Source: S. A. Shaffer and others. ‘Migratory shearwaters integrate oceanic resources across the Pacific Ocean in an endless summer.’ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103, no. 34, (last accessed 15 April 2010)

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How to cite this page:

Kerry-Jayne Wilson, 'Seabirds – overview - Foraging and migration', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 1 March 2024)

Story by Kerry-Jayne Wilson, published 12 Jun 2006, reviewed & revised 17 Feb 2015