Sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus)
The most common seabird found in the New Zealand region with a world population of 20 million birds. Harvested in New Zealand, being the traditional muttonbird for Southern Maori tribes with about quarter of a million chicks harvested annually. Sooty shearwaters breed in New Zealand over the summer and autumn. In late autumn sooty shearwaters depart from New Zealand waters and migrate into the North Pacific off the coast of Japan and North America. While migrating, large flocks of over 500,000 birds have been sighted. They plunge-dive into the water and can swim underwater using their wings.
Sooty shearwaters can be seen off Kaikoura from late September to late May. Generally only small flocks of sooty shearwaters are seen, often in association with other species of shearwaters. Sooty shearwaters feed on the bright orange krill which occurs in vast numbers off Kaikoura in the summer and autumn. Sooty shearwaters fly close to the water, hence the birds name "shearwater".