Volume 51, No. 1

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Sighting of a Beck's Petrel Pseudobulweria becki and a Vanuatu Petrel Pterodroma [cervicalis] occulta in remote Oceania, and the process of identification


1Robert L. Flood, FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa (
2Kirk Zufelt, 1001 Third Line East, Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario P6A 6J8, Canada (


FLOOD, R.L. & ZUFELT, Z. 2023. Sighting of a Beck's Petrel Pseudobulweria becki and a Vanuatu Petrel Pterodroma [cervicalis] occulta in remote Oceania, and the process of identification. Marine Ornithology 51: 79 - 84

Received 13 February 2023, accepted 01 March 2023

Date Published: 2023/04/15
Date Online: 2023/04/10
Key words: Beck's Petrel range, Beck's Petrel identification, Vanuatu Petrel range, Vanuatu Petrel identification


This note reports observations of a presumed Beck's Petrel Pseudobulweria becki and a Vanuatu Petrel Pterodroma [cervicalis] occulta in April 2022, in the low latitudes of the North Pacific, north of Kiritimati, Republic of Kiribati. The sightings are significant because the ranges of both taxa are barely known and their conservation classifications are concerning. We explain the circumstances of each sighting and the process of identification, reflecting upon current identification criteria and our studies of Beck's Petrel and Vanuatu Petrel at their breeding grounds. Discussion is illustrated with photographs of each bird and its cryptic confusion counterpart—the larger Tahiti Petrel Pseudobulweria rostrata for Beck's Petrel, and the larger White-necked Petrel Pterodroma cervicalis for Vanuatu Petrel. These two confusion pairs are generally considered inseparable at sea, but we demonstrate otherwise, given favourable circumstances.


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