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the web of life in southern Africa

Pterodroma mollis (Soft-plumaged petrel) 

Donsveerstormvoël [Afrikaans]; Donsstormvogel [Dutch]; Pétrel de Schlegel [French]; Schlegels sturmvogel [German]; Freira-meridional [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

Pterodroma mollis (Soft-plumaged petrel)   

Soft-plumaged petrel, offshore from Cape Town, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]


Distribution and habitat

Breeds on sub-Antarctic islands as well as on Maatsuyker Island off Tasmania, after which it disperses across southern oceans from 20-50° South, including southern African waters. Here it is common off South Africa and southern Namibia but more scarce further north and closer to the coast.

Predators and parasites

It has been recorded as prey of Catharacta antarctica (Subantarctic skua) at its breeding colonies.

Movements and migrations

Mainly present at its breeding colonies from August-May, hence although it is seen year-round in southern African waters, it is most common in the period from May-October.


Mainly eats squid, supplemented with crustaceans and rarely fish, doing most of its foraging by grabbing prey from the water surface. It sometimes associates with dolphins and toothed whales, catching prey they disturb or alternatively following fishing vessels to grab discards and offal.


Not threatened, although introduced predators have decreased the population size of several of 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.