Galapagos Shearwater

One of the Galapagos "newest species"!


This small black-and-white bird lives and breeds on the Galapagos Islands, but it has also been seen as far away as Western Mexico and the Central American coastline. Until recently, the Galapagos Shearwater was thought to be a subspecies of another Shearwater but has recently been recognized as a true full species on its own.

You can see Galapagos Shearwaters close to the shores of the islands on which they have breeding colonies - chiefly Santa Cruz, Española, and the remote and uninhabited Wolf Island. They are often foraging for food with other birds such as boobies and terns. The Galapagos Shearwaters fly very low to the water surface and with great speed, beating their wings very fast and then stopping to glide for a distance. This repeating pattern of wing beats and glides is the easiest way to identify them in flight.

The Galapagos Shearwater is not currently listed as under threat, but as the naturalist guide of your Galapagos cruise will explain, their overall numbers have been decreasing over recent years. The main threat to these birds on the Galapagos is from non-native species like cats and rats that can eat young and adults alike in their nest burrows. They are also at risk from animals like goats and other grazers that quickly destroy the natural cover the birds prefer to nest within. 

The Galapagos National Park has been attempting to control the introduced species on the islands where the Galapagos Shearwaters breed, and fortunately, this has seen the population start to stabilize here. You will learn much more about the conservation efforts in the Galapagos on any of our tour itineraries.

Photos of the Galapagos Shearwater

Fast Facts about the Galapagos Shearwater

  • Galapagos Shearwaters usually stay close to the archipelago, but some have been sited as far away as Mexico
  • The Galapagos Shearwater's main diet consists of squid and fish
  • Both male and females have exactly the same marking and coloration
  • Galapagos Shearwaters are often seen at sea feeding alongside Boobies and other shearwaters

Where can the Galapagos Shearwater be seen?

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All cruises to visit the Galapagos Shearwater