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the web of life in southern Africa

Macronectes giganteus (Southern giant-petrel) 

Reuse nellie [Afrikaans]; Reusenellie [Afrikaans]; Zuidelijke reuzenstormvogel [Dutch]; Pétrel géant [French]; Riesensturmvogel [German]; Pardelão-antárctico [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

Macronectes giganteus (Southern giant-petrel)  Macronectes giganteus (Southern giant-petrel) 
Southern giant-petrel, offshore from Cape Town, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©] Southern giant-petrel, offshore from Cape Town, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Breeds on sub-Antarctic islands, ice-free areas of Antarctica, the Patagonian coast and the Falkland Islands, after which it disperse across the southern oceans, mainly between 30-70° South although extending further north along the west coasts of South America and southern Africa. Here it is fairly common off South Africa and Namibia, while more scarce to the east of southern Mozambique and the north-western corner of the region.

Predators and parasites

It is occasionally recorded as prey of sharks.

Movements and migrations

Occurs year-round off the southern African coast, although most common in winter, as it returns to its breeding colonies from July onwards.


It is an omnivorous scavenger and predator, doing most of its foraging by grabbing prey from the water surface or coming ashore to feed on seabird chicks and adults. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Vertebrates
  • Invertebrates
    • crustaceans
    • squid
  • Other
    • fishery discards and offal


Vulnerable due to mortalities on longlines and human disturbance at breeding colonies, which caused a world population decrease of 17%, and is now down to about 31 500 pairs.


  • 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.