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Procellaria aequinoctialis (White-chinned petrel) 

Bassiaan [Afrikaans]; Witkinstormvogel [Dutch]; Puffin menton blanc [French]; Weikinn-sturmvogel [German]; Painho-de-queixo-branco [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

Procellaria aequinoctialis (White-chinned petrel) Procellaria aequinoctialis (White-chinned petrel) 
White-chinned petrel. [photo Jeff Poklen ] White-chinned petrel, offshore from Cape Town, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]

Distribution and habitat

Breeds on sub-Antarctic islands, from the Falklands to islands south-west of New Zealand, dispersing across southern oceans between 30-65 South (extending further north along the west coasts of South America and Africa). It is common across southern African waters, while scarce to absent in the north-west and north-east.

Predators and parasites

It has been recorded as prey of Catharacta antarctica (Subantarctic skua).

Movements and migrations

Present year-round of the south and west coast of southern Africa, although especially common in winter, as most birds return to their colonies in September.


It mainly eats trawler offal and discards, supplemented with crustaceans and squid, catching live prey by grabbing them from the water. When foraging for scraps near fishing vessels it often settles with its head beneath the surface, so that it can spot and pursue sinking offal and discards. It also associates with tuna (Thunnus), Common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), Dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) and Bryde's whales (Balaenoptera edeni). The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • fish
    • Etrumeus teres (Red-eye)
    • Maurolicus muelleri (Lightfish)
    • Lampanyctodes hectoris (Lanternfish)
    • Engraulis encrasicolus (Anchovy)
  • Squilla armata (mantis shrimps)
  • Sepia (cuttlefish)
  • other crustaceans and squids
  • trawler offal and discards
    • Merluccius (hake)
    • Coelorhynchus fasciatus (rattails)


Vulnerable, with a decreasing global population of approximately three million pairs. Its South Georgia colony decreased in size by 28% over 17 years, mirroring similar decreases in other colonies. This situation is thought to have been largely caused by longlines, which causes an estimated 45 000 mortalities every year. Thankfully this thought to be decreasing every year thanks to changes in fishing practices.


  • 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.