Another New Storm-Petrel Discovered

Puerto Montt Storm Petrel. Christian Nunes

by Gyorgy Szimuly on February 25, 2011 · 4 comments

in Birding News

Puerto Montt Storm-Petrel - Peter Harrison.Fantastic news flying in cyber space about a recent expedition to collect data about the new Storm-Petrel species from Puerto Montt, Chile. Peter Harrison, the well known seabird and pelagic expert and his team managed to capture the ‘mystery’ Oceanites Storm-Petrel with  net-guns specifically developed for the capture of the rediscovered  New Zealand Storm-Petrel Oceanites maorianus. Here is an excerpt from the press-release.

A new species of seabird has been found. A five-person multi-national expedition led by British seabird expert Peter Harrison, captured 12 of the mystery storm-petrels at sea near Puerto Montt, Chile on February 18, 19, and 21, and can now confirm the existence of a new species. This tiny black and white seabird belongs to a group of seabirds known as storm-petrels which appear to dance on the water, pushing off with webbed feet on long legs and wings spread, they are able to gather small food items from the surface of the water.

“These birds are likely to be a completely new species, as they are so different from any other storm petrels we know,” says Harrison. “There are just 22 known storm-petrels world wide.”

Harrison has been researching seabirds world-wide for many years. His authoritative Seabirds of the World was first published in 1983. He is now photographing and painting for a new handbook to the seabirds of the world, to be published by Lynx Edicions (Barcelona).” Read more …

There is also a pdf available by Peter Harrison to that describes the collecting process. Very interesting! And smashing photographs!

While the current work provide the basis for a scientific description of the new species, one must also mention the story of the original discovery of the new species from February 2009. It was the keen eyes Irish birders Seamus Enright and Michael O’Keeffe and friends, seabirding on the Puerto Montt ferry, that first noted that the Storm-Petrels with massive amount of white of the underparts where NOT the Fuegian ssp of Wilson’s Storm-Petrel O. o. chilensis, as they had photographed this form off Valaparaiso only a few days before – and this had at best some mottling of white on the underparts. The findings and discussion is published on the web in various forms – the most complete on Scillypelagics web-page, which gives great background the first photos and a digital sketch comparing Wilson’s and Elliot’s Storm-Petrel with the new species.

Additional photos can be found on Christian Nunes Flickr set.
This post is co-authored by György Szimuly and Gunnar Engblom.

Top photos: Puerto Montt Storm-Petrel by Christian Nunez  from his Flickr page and the photo by Peter Harrison (© Lynx Seabirds Handbook Project), which appears in the press release on Zegrahm Expeditions blog .

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