Procellariiformes – Albatrosses & petrels

Home to some of the most endangered birds – led to the signing of the Agreement on the Conservation in 2001

A fascinating order of seabirds that encompasses an array of iconic species, including albatrosses, prions, petrels, shearwaters, and fulmars. These birds are easily recognizable by their distinctive tubular nostrils and hooked bills, earning them the moniker ‘tubenoses.’ Despite their diversity in size and wingspan, Procellariiformes generally share common characteristics such as long wings and short necks, perfectly adapted for life at sea.

One of the most remarkable traits of Procellariiformes is their unique breeding behavior. While they spend the majority of their lives at sea, these birds return to land only to breed, exhibiting remarkable fidelity to their nesting sites. Albatrosses, in particular, are renowned for their extraordinary feats, capable of remaining airborne for up to six years without touching land. Furthermore, these seabirds display remarkable devotion to their mates, often returning to the same nesting site year after year to raise their young. This steadfast commitment to their partners and nesting grounds underscores the depth of their social bonds and the importance of these sites for successful reproduction.

An intriguing defense mechanism exhibited by Procellariiformes is their ability to squirt an oily liquid from their stomachs when threatened. This behavior, known as “oiling,” serves as a deterrent against potential predators, allowing the birds to defend themselves effectively in their open ocean environment. Remarkably, even young chicks are capable of this defense mechanism, showcasing the innate survival instincts of these seabirds from an early age.

Beyond their remarkable adaptations and behaviors, Procellariiformes play a vital role in ocean ecosystems. As long-distance travelers, they help transport nutrients across vast expanses of ocean, contributing to the health and productivity of marine environments. Additionally, their unique breeding strategies and defense mechanisms highlight their resilience and adaptability to life in the open sea.