Black-Vented Shearwater

Range Map
Puffinus opisthomelas

The Black-Vented Shearwater is a pelagic species, occurring in the Pacific Ocean for approximately 440 miles of the California coast from San Francisco and Monterey, to the border with Mexico. South of the border, their range extends 1300 miles along the Mexican coast to Colima, and includes the Gulf of California. As large as this area may sound, it is one of the smaller ranges of any shearwater species.

This bird will dive to more than 60 feet to catch its favorite bait fish prey. Squid and crustaceans are also popular menu items.

These birds nest on desert islands off the west coast of northern Baja California (Mexico). Their preferred nesting sites are in sandy dunes, where they dig burrows to protect their treasures. If these islands lack sand dunes, but have rocky outcrops, they will exploit rocky crevices for nest placement. When actively nesting, the birds lead a subterranean lifestyle during daylight hours. All their foraging is done nocturnally.

There are about 30 shearwater species on earth. Most live in the southern hemisphere. Like most shearwater species, the Black-Vented Shearwater is monotypic (there are no subspecies).

Most of my meetings with this species have occurred during pelagic day voyages from San Diego. In February 2017, during a science sea voyage, I met them off the central coast of Baja California (Mexico), including a visit to islands where they nested.

Click map markers to reveal further information