Procellaria cinerea 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Procellariiformes Procellariidae

Scientific Name: Procellaria cinerea
Species Authority: Gmelin, 1789
Common Name(s):
English Grey Petrel, Gray Petrel, Grey Shearwater, Pediunker
French Pétrel gris, Puffin gris
Spanish Pardela Gris
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
Identification information: 48cm. A large (c. 1000g) ash-grey and white petrel with brownish grey mantle, back, uppertail-coverts and upperwings, and dark grey underwings, contrasting with white belly. It readily plunges from heights of up to 10m and swims underwater using wings (Harrison 1983). Similar spp. Differs from White-headed Petrel in having dark grey cap, and from other larger petrels and shearwaters in combination of white underparts and wholly dark underwing (Brooke 2004).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Barbraud, C., Bartle, S., Bell, E., Bond, A., Cuthbert, R., Garnett, S., Parker, G., Stahl, J.-C. & Taylor, G.A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Anderson, O., Calvert, R., Moreno, R., Small, C., Stattersfield, A., Sullivan, B., Symes, A.
Although there are no current trend data, this species is susceptible to introduced mammalian predators, having been previously extirpated from Macquarie Island by cats and rats, and it has been commonly caught in longline fisheries in New Zealand waters. Evidence from Gough Island, formerly thought to contain the largest population of this species, suggest that the species is likely to be subjected to considerable predation from introduced mice that are a major predator on other winter-breeding seabirds. The population on the Kerguelen Islands may also be in decline due to fishery bycatch. Based on these data a moderately rapid decline is suspected and as such the species is listed as Near Threatened, but further data are urgently required in order to more accurately assess its population numbers and trends.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species has a circumpolar distribution between 32-58 degrees South, but somewhat to the north in the Humboldt Current and off the east coast of South America (Brooke 2004). It breeds on Gough and other islands in the Tristan da Cunha group (St Helena, to UK), Prince Edward and Marion islands (South Africa), Crozet, Kerguelen and Amsterdam islands (French Southern Territories), Campbell and the Antipodes islands (New Zealand), and Macquarie Island (Australia). Its total population size is poorly known. Its largest breeding populations was believed to be in the Tristan da Cunha group: in the early 1970s, hundreds of thousands were guessed to breed at Gough Island (Richardson 1984). However, the most recent estimate for Gough suggests a population of >10,000 pairs (Cuthbert and Sommer 2004), with pairs only sparse in the uplands (Imber 1983), and thus the population on Gough may be far lower than on the Antipodes (R. Cuthbert in litt. 2008). A small number of pairs also breed on Tristan da Cunha itself, 50-100 pairs estimated in 1972-1974 (Richardson 1984, in Angel and Cooper 2006). The largest population is therefore likely to be on the Antipodes Islands, with 48,960 pairs estimated in 2010 (Bell 2002, Bell et al. 2013). In addition, several thousand pairs are estimated at Prince Edward, Crozet and Kerguelen islands. One estimate in 2006 on the Kerguelen Islands gave a figure of 1,900-5,600 breeding pairs, though some nesting sites were not sampled. More recent figures from Crozet (in 2005) indicated the occurrence of 5,500 pairs (ACAP 2012). Only c.10 pairs breed on Amsterdam Island (J.C. Stahl per S. Bartle in litt. 2000), although the fossil record indicates that one of the world's largest colonies probably occurred there (Worthy and Jouventin 1999). The first quantitative population estimate on Campbell Island and surrounding islets estimated c. 96 pairs from the four colonies. Since work was conducted during the middle of the chick-rearing stage, this is an underestimate of the breeding population (Graham et al. 2016). There are now >90 pairs on Macquarie following eradication of invasive mammals on the island. There is no population trend data for most of the sites, but based on a population model and data from fisheries, this population may be in decline due to bycatch (Barbraud et al. 2009).

Countries occurrence:
Argentina; Chile; Falkland Islands (Malvinas); French Southern Territories; New Zealand; Peru; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; South Africa; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Uruguay
Regionally extinct:
Antarctica; Brazil; Mozambique; Namibia
Present - origin uncertain:
Bouvet Island; Heard Island and McDonald Islands
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:146000000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):350
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Figures suggest a very tentative world population around 400,000 individuals, a figure that could be incorrect by a factor of 2-3 either way (Brooke 2004). A tally of the most recent figures, points to at least 80,000 pairs worldwide, but this figure is thought to be only a rough estimate.

Trend Justification:  This species is susceptible to introduced mammalian predators, having been previously extirpated from Macquarie Island by cats and rats, and today, it is one of the bycatch species in longline fisheries in New Zealand waters. The population on the Kerguelen Islands may also be in decline due to fishery bycatch (Barbraud et al. 2009). Evidence from Gough Island, formerly thought to contain the largest population of this species, suggest that P. cinerea are likely to be subjected to considerable predation from introduced mice that are a major predator on other winter-breeding seabirds. Hence moderately rapid declines are suspected, but further data are urgently required in order to more accurately assess its population numbers and trends.

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation:100

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Behaviour Birds return to the breeding colonies in the austral autumn, first appearing in February and March and often flying in to land during diurnal hours. Eggs are laid in late March and early April, and chicks fledge in late September to early December. The asynchrony in fledging dates within sites and years is thought to reflect food scarcity and variability during the winter rather than asynchrony in laying. The estimated mean age of the first breeding is 7 years (Barbraud et al. 2009). The species typically forages alone or in groups of three or four, but also occasionally in larger flocks over 50 birds (ACAP 2009). Habitat Breeding It nests in burrows on well-drained areas, often dominated by Poa tussock grass, where the ground may be steep. Diet Its diet has been documented by one study in which cephalopods were the main prey item, followed by fish remains (ACAP 2009). Foraging range Data obtained from seabird bycatch suggest that during the breeding season (austral winter), females forage further north than males, in waters north of the Subtropical Convergence, up to 1,460 km from their colonies on Sub-Antarctic islands (ACAP 2009).

Systems:Terrestrial; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):21.7
Movement patterns:Full Migrant
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In New Zealand waters, it is the most frequently killed species by the tuna-longline fishery (c.45,000 birds in total could have been caught in the last 20 years [S. Bartle in litt. 2000] and also see Bartle 1990, Murray et al. 1993, Taylor 2000). Substantial incidental mortality has also been recorded in fisheries off Australia, and it may be caught in significant numbers in international waters in the southern Indian Ocean, for which little seabird bycatch information exists (Huyser et al. 1999). A strict minimum of 755 individuals are taken annually in the Patagonian fisheries operating around the Kerguelen Islands, which far exceeds the value that has been predicted would lead to population declines on these islands (Barbraud et al. 2009). Introduced predators on the breeding islands are a further serious threat, for example, cats and black rat Rattus rattus on Crozet and Kerguelen, and, until their fairly recent eradication, cats on Marion Island. Brown rats Rattus norvegicus were eradicated from Campbell Island in 2001. The introduction of rats to Antipodes Island would be a major threat (Taylor 2000). House mice Mus musculus were eradicated from the Antipodes islands in 2016 (to be confirmed in 2018/19). Cats and Weka Gallirallus australis were probably responsible for extinction from Macquarie Island and brown rat and cats for its near extinction on Amsterdam. On Gough Island, recent evidence has indicated that introduced house mice are a significant predator of winter-breeding seabirds and are driving population declines of at least two species (Cuthbert and Hilton 2004, Wanless et al. 2007). A review of impacts of mice on Gough Island concludes that petrels are probably predated by mice (Angel and Cooper 2006). Although the impact of this on the population is currently unknown, if predation rates are similar to other winter breeding albatrosses and petrels on Gough then the population is likely to be declining. On Macquarie Island, high rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus numbers have destroyed vegetation and caused soil erosion at nesting sites. Rabbits may also disturb birds in burrows when nesting (Angel and Cooper 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II and ACAP Annex 1. Gough Island is a World Heritage Site. In 2001, a study was conducted on the Antipodes Islands on the feasibility of establishing long term monitoring plots. Brown rats were eradicated from Campbell Island in 2001. Mice eradication projects took place on the Antipodes islands in 2016 (to be confirmed in 2018/19). In 2006, the South East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (SEAFO) passed a resolution to require all its longline vessels to use a tori line and to set lines at night. In 2007, the New Zealand government began a five year study of Procellaria petrels on Antipodes Island which will investigate issues such as population size and trends, annual survival rates of adults and breeding frequency. Geolocation loggers and other tracking devices will be applied to birds to determine foraging zones and migration routes (G. Taylor in litt. 2008). Foraging zones and migration routes have been identified for the Kerguelen population (Delord et al. 2013). A 120 000 km² marine protected area has been established in the French Southern Territories with no fishing activities (

Conservation Actions Proposed
Census the population on all the breeding islands. Conduct regular monitoring of a representative proportion of the population. Determine if predation by mice is a serious threat on Gough Island. Determine the at-sea distribution of the species through tracking studies and the interaction with longline fisheries. Promote the adoption of a) monitoring of seabird bycatch associated with longline fishing and b) best-practice mitigation measures in all fisheries within the species's range, particularly via intergovernmental mechanisms such as ACAP, the FAO, and Regional Fisheries Management Organisations.

Amended [top]

Amended reason: Edited: Geographic Range, Assessment Rationale, Trend Justification, Threats and  Conservations Actions Underway. Added references and also new Contributors and one new Compiler.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2017. Procellaria cinerea. (amended version published in 2016) The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22698159A112038075. . Downloaded on 28 June 2017.
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