Australasian Gannet (Morus serrator)



Also known as Australian Gannet.


Very similar to Cape Gannet and (slightly less so) to Northern Gannet.

Adult: Wing pattern essentially like Cape Gannet, with black primaries, upper primary coverts and 3 outermost secondaries. Tail is white except for the four innermost feathers which are black.

Immatures: Very similar to Cape and Northern Gannets. Field identification requires more study. Brown immatures (1-2 yr olds) thought to have slightly paler head, neck and underparts (Enticott and Tipling, 1997).

Where and When

Breeds in colonies on islands off southern Australia, Tasmania, Norfolk Island and New Zealand. The largest mainland colony, and a major tourist attraction, is the colony at Cape Kidnapper's in Hawkes Bay, North Island of New Zealand.

Non-breeders disperse west and north to the Tropic of Capricorn along the eastern and western coasts of Australia. Has reached Brazil, South Africa, The Crozets and Marion Island. Vagrant status in African waters may be obscured by similarity to Cape Gannet.

Photographs on the web

Adult on water

Paul Hafner has posted an interesting series of photographs taken at a breeding colony on Muriwai (NW of Auckland) in New Zealand, including several that are especially useful from an identification standpoint:
In flight showing ventral surfaces Notice how the long white terials give the (slightly misleading) impression of white secondaries.
Detail of secondaries and upperwing coverts.
Ventral view showing tail.
Another ventral view showing white outer tail feathers and a few residual dark under primary coverts. One of the teritals also seems to dark.
Five adults in flight More like a typical seawatching view.

A nice series showing details of the head pattern and gular stripe. Taken at Cape Kidnappers, Hawkes Bay by


Nelson, J.B. (1978) The Sulidae: gannets and boobies. Oxford University Press, London.

Copyright © 2002 All rights reserved. Angus Wilson
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