Greater Shearwater – Accepted

1. 24 Feb 1979


Monterey Bay MTY




2. 01–02 Oct 1994


Monterey Bay MTY



Figs. 57, 58, ph., FN 49:95, Roberson (2002)

3. 13–15 Jan 2001


Monterey Bay MTY




4. 08 Oct 2001


~15 nmi. w Davenport SCZ





Greater Shearwater – Not accepted, identification not established

15 Oct 1995


~12.5 nmi. sw Southeast Farallon I. SF




12 Oct 2003


~10.5 nmi. nw Pt. Pinos MTY





Greater Shearwater – Not submitted

05 Oct 2003


Monterey Bay MTY



NAB 58:137; see record 2003-178 under “Not accepted, identification not established”













Figures 57, 58 (top, bottom). California’s second Greater Shearwater—and the first to be photographed in the North Pacific—was present 1–2 October 1994 on Monterey Bay, Monterey County. These photos were obtained on the second day (1994-144; Ronald Branson).



Figure H-9. California’s first four Greater Shearwaters were on Monterey Bay, but the fifth was photographed on 29 August 2004 in waters off Bodega Head in Sonoma County. Note this stocky bird’s thin black bill, neat cap, dark collar, and belly smudge (2004-129; Eric Preston).





Greater Shearwater

GREATER SHEARWATER Puffinus gravis (O’Reilly, 1818)

Accepted: 4 (67%)

Treated in Appendix H: yes

Not accepted: 2

CBRC review: all records

Not submitted/reviewed: 1

Color image: see figures

This seabird breeds abundantly on islands in the south-central Atlantic Ocean and is a transequatorial migrant that ranges far north to pelagic waters off eastern Canada and Greenland (mainly May to October) and off Europe (mainly August to October) before returning south. The species occurs regularly off Argentina during the boreal winter, and in the South Pacific it has been recorded at least once each off southern Australia (Marchant and Higgins 1990) and Chile (S. N. G. Howell in litt.). A moribund individual was found on 20 August 1997 at Lake Ontario, Toronto (Brewer et al. 1998). In addition to California’s records, the species has been recorded only three times in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, all since 2000: 18 nautical miles off Vancouver Island 24 June 2000; Gulf of Alaska 3 August 2001 (photo, Gibson et al. 2003); and 24 August 2002 off Westport, Washington (photo).

California’s first Greater Shearwater was seen on 24 February 1979 on Monterey Bay, Monterey County. This controversial record is unique in having been accepted, not accepted, and accepted again by the Committee. At the time of this sighting the species was unknown from the North Pacific, and many winter records from the North Atlantic had been questioned. On the first two days of October 1994, as the 1979 record was completing its first re-review, a Greater Shearwater was photographed on Monterey Bay (Figures 57, 58). The latter record’s autumn date coincides with the period when this species is expected in the Northern Hemisphere. But in January 2001 another bird was carefully studied on Monterey Bay, and its midwinter timing generated further debate over the vexatious 1979 record, leading to its second re-review and eventual re-acceptance. Another individual was found in Santa Cruz County waters near Monterey Bay on 8 October 2001. Appendix H treats two subsequent fall records, from Sonoma County and Monterey Bay.