Mottled Petrel 

Pterodroma inexpectata

The Mottled Petrel was named by its discoverer “inexpectata” because he was not expecting to find a gadfly petrel so far north in the Pacific. The Mottled Petrel breeds on offshore islands near New Zealand and then winters (our summer) in the far north Pacific. Research cruises have shown this species to be regular in the Bering Sea around the Aleutian Chain and further north. They are undoubtedly regular in the deeper waters forty miles west of Saint Paul. Occasionally strong summer storms will drive Mottled Petrels and other tubenoses into the shallower waters near the Pribilofs. Lucky seawatchers, busy enduring bitter cold, driving rain and spray, and heavy winds might catch a quick look as these petrels arc in amongst the waves. Look for small dark backed birds with white undersides, gray bellies and distinctive black M on their underwings. In flight these birds often pinwheel high above the waterline before coming back down into the wave troughs. Their flight is fast, and direct, although when feeding they will often double back on their path.