Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: South Carolina
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Jodice, P.G.R., R.A. Ronconi, E. Rupp, G.E. Wallace, Y. Satge. 2015. First satellite tracks of the endangered Black-capped Petrel. Endangered Species Research 29:23-33. doi: 10.3354/esr00697


The Black-capped Petrel is an endangered seabird with fewer than 2,000 breeding pairs restricted to three confirmed breeding sites in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. To date, use areas at sea have been determined entirely from vessel-based surveys and opportunistic sightings and, as such, spatial and temporal gaps in our understanding of the species’ marine range are likely. To enhance our understanding of marine use areas we deployed satellite tags on three Black-capped Petrels breeding in the Sierra de Bahoruco National Park in the Dominican Republic along the border with Haiti, representing the first tracking study for this species and one of the first tracking studies for any breeding seabird in the Caribbean. During chick-rearing, petrels primarily used marine habitats in the southern Caribbean Sea, between the breeding site and the coasts of Venezuela and Colombia. Maximum distance from the breeding sites ranged from ca. 500 – 1500 km during the chick-rearing period. During the post-breeding period, each bird dispersed north and used waters west of the Gulf Stream offshore of the mid- and southern Atlantic coasts of the USA, as well Gulf Stream waters and deeper pelagic waters east of the Gulf Stream in the vicinity of the Blake Spur and Charleston Bump. Maximum distance from the breeding sites ranged from ca. 2000 – 2200 km among birds during the nonbreeding period. In total, petrels used waters located within 14 different exclusive economic zones suggesting that evolving management strategies for this species will be benefitted by continued international collaboration.