WatchList Species Account for Xantus's Murrelet (Synthliboramphus hypoleucus)

Qualifies for the list as a Red List Species


Photo: © 2005 Steve Sosensky
Photo: Glen Tepke

With a breeding range of only 116 square miles, Xantus's Murrelet nests in natural crevices on just nine offshore rocky islands; six in the California Channel Islands (Santa Barbara, San Miguel, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Catalina, and San Clemente), and three off the coast of Baja California, Mexico (Los Coronados, Guadalupe, and San Benito).


During the non-breeding season, this species is found on the continental shelf from Baja California, Mexico to southern British Columbia. Its population size is estimated at 5,600 birds. While the species is stable on Santa Barbara and recovering on Anacapa, it is declining or has become extirpated where cats or rats are present.


Among the potential threats to Xantu's Murrelet are potential oil spills, disturbance by visitors to the islands, and gill nets. Prescribed actions to save the species include listing it as federally endangered, restoring populations on former breeding islands (Todos Santos, San Martin, San Geronimo) and on islands where the species now only uses predator-free islets (Los Coronados and Guadalupe) by removing introduced predators.


In addition, shipping in the vicinity of breeding islands should be prevented during late winter through early summer through defining the area as Critical Habitat. Visitation to the islands should be strictly limited and bird avoidance measures should be developed for gill nets.