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the web of life in southern Africa

Halobaena caerulea (Blue petrel) 

Bloustormvoël [Afrikaans]; Blauwe stormvogel [Dutch]; Prion bleu [French]; Blausturmvogel [German]; Painho-azul [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Ciconiiformes > Family: Procellariidae

Halobaena caerulea (Blue petrel)   

Blue petrel, between South Orkney and South Georgia, Sub-Antarctic. [photo Teus Luijendijk ©]


Distribution and habitat

Breeds from August-February on the Diego Ramirez Islands, other islands off the Cape Horn and sub-Antarctic Islands, after which it disperses across the Southern Ocean, mainly from 40-70° South. It occasionally moves en masse to southern African waters, where it can be found off the coast of South Africa, however this does not happen often. In the most well-known irruption, at least 76 individuals travelled to southern African waters between July-August 1984, mirroring similar occurrences off Australasia and South America.


It mainly eats crustaceans, fish, salps and squid, doing most of its foraging by grabbing prey from the surface of the water. It often follows ships to catch the food they drop, or alternatively it can follow dolphins and catch the animals they disturb. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • crustaceans
    • euphausiids
    • amphipods
    • copepods
  • squid
  • fish
  • salps


Not threatened, in fact it has been negatively affected by introduced Domestic cats (Felis catus) at its breeding colonies.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.