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Species Guide

Tropical Shearwater

Puffinus bailloni

The tropical shearwater, known scientifically as Puffinus bailloni, is a member of the Procellariidae family. This seabird, once thought to be the same species as Audubon's shearwater, has a distinct identity of its own.

Identification Tips

To identify the tropical shearwater, one should look for its characteristic features which include a slender body and the typical shearwater shape.


There are five subspecies of the tropical shearwater:

  • Puffinus bailloni nicolae: Breeds in the northwest Indian Ocean.
  • Puffinus bailloni colstoni: Found in the Aldabra Islands in the Seychelles.
  • Puffinus bailloni bailloni: Located in Mauritius, Réunion, and Europa Island.
  • Puffinus bailloni dichrous: Resides in Central Pacific islands.
  • Puffinus bailloni gunax: Inhabits Vanuatu.


The tropical shearwater graces the tropical waters of the western Indian Ocean, from East Africa to southern India, and in the Pacific from southeast of Japan to French Polynesia.


While the total population is not precisely quantified, notable concentrations include an estimated 26,118 pairs on Aride Island in Seychelles. The subspecies P. b. bailloni breeds on several small rat-free islands nearby, while P. b. dichrous is estimated to have 1,000–10,000 pairs on the Line Islands and 10,000–100,000 pairs on the Phoenix Islands. The nominate subspecies is thought to number 3,000–5,000 pairs on Réunion and fewer than 100 individuals on Europa.

Conservation Status

The tropical shearwater is currently classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, with the population appearing to be stable. This suggests that, for now, the species is not facing immediate threats that would warrant a higher risk category.

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Tropical Shearwaters on Birda

A map showing the sighting location
Nicky Forbes
30 Jan 2022 - 6:59am

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