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Polynesian Storm-petrel


Photo Ray Pierce

Océanite à gorge blanche - Photo Steve Wood

Océanite à gorge blanche © Steve Wood

10 inches. Male and female identical in appearance. In Samoa, the birds are completely black. In French Polynesia, throat, belly and rump are white and have a side band on the underside of the wings. The rest is black. The clearest birds are found mainly in the Gambier and Rapa (Austral), intermediate colorations exist but have not been recorded in French Polynesia. The tail is slightly forked. Zigzag flight is characteristic of this species. Its beak is black and slightly hooked at its end and surmounted by two horny tubes upon which the nostrils open. The legs are long webbed and black.

Order: Procellariiformes

Family: Oceanitidae

Category: Seabirds


Species localised in tropical areas of the Pacific Ocean. Breeds in Rapa, the Marquesas (Ua Pou) and Gambier; Sometimes visits Tahiti and the north of Tubuai. Nests also in Vanuatu, Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, New Caledonia and Chile.


Pelagic, lays in burrows dug on top of mountains or in the atolls. May nest on the ground under vegetation.

Barely audible hissing emitted from the inside the burrow.

To listen the Polynesian Storm-petrel:

fish, cephalopods and eggs. Sting small prey on the surface of water.

Unlike some petrels, these birds visit their nests and colony days and nights. They nest in very fragile burrows dug in the sand or under the vegetation. A single egg is laid. It is cream with small reddish spots; and measures 36 x 27 mm in the Marquesas 41 x 29 mm in Rapa. Incubation lasts 50 days and 60 days in the Gambier. Nesting is seasonal in Rapa and the Gambier, limited to the southern summer, and extended all year in the Marquesas.

Original text by Caroline BLANVILLAIN – Supplements and update by various members of the SOP Manu.



Scientific Name: Nesofregetta fuliginosa (Gmelin, 1789)

Polynesian Names:
Kotai (Mangareva), pitai (Marquises), hauhea (Raivavae), korue (Rapa)

  • French Polynesia: Austral, Society, Gambier, Marquesas
  • Vanuatu
  • Fiji
  • Kiribati
  • New Caledonia
  • Chile


The species is listed in category A of the list of species protected by the territorial regulations of French Polynesia.
It is classified “Endangered” (EN) on the IUCN Red List because many known breeding sites have been abandoned in the last 50 years. It nests only in islands where cats and big rats are absent. Even the small Polynesian rat could have a negative impact on this species.