• Name: Fulmar (Northern) | Fulmarus glacialis
  • Size: 1-1.12m wingspan
  • Life span: 31 years 
  • Diet: Fulmar are carnivores (piscivores) and scavengers; feeding on shrimp, fish, squid, plankton, jellyfish, but also carrion, and refuse.
  • Reproduction: Fulmar reach sexual maturity anywhere between 6-12 years of age.  Females lay 1 egg and parents take turns to incubate and share feeding duties once hatched.  Fulmar are monogamous and pairs will generally return to the same nesting location every year.
  • When to see: All year round (January to December)  (Scilly is regionally important for breeding Fulmar)
  • Where to see: Out at sea or on rocky outcrops during breeding season i.e. Western Rocks | St Martin's Head, St Martins | Menawethan | Porth Warna, St Agnes in Scilly.  
  • Conservation status: ICUN Redlist | Least Concern.  Birds of Conservation Concern 4 | Amber (UK)
  • Population Trend: Increasing
  • Threats:  Human activity (i.e. disturbance), pollution, climate change (changes in weather patterns, changing sea temperatures). 
  • Fun Fact: Fulmar create a kind of stomach oil that they store in a section of their stomachs called the proventriculus. They use this oil for 2 reasons:
      1. They spray it out as a defensive measure. It can gum up the wings of predator birds and really smells.
      2. They can regurgitate it as an energy-rich resource they use for long flights or to feed their young.

Description: Fulmar are similar to some Gull species in size and to look at, with their white body and grey wings.  However, they are distinctly different in that they are closely related to the Albatross! 

With distinctive dark feathered "eyeliner" and a tube-nose the Fulmar also shares the characteristic stiff-winged, but graceful, flight seen in their larger Albatross "cousins".

They produce a stomach oil which can be sprayed out of their mouths as a defense against predators from a very early age; it can also be used as an energy rich food source for chicks and for the adults during their long flights.

The stomach oil will mat the plumage of avian predators, and can lead to their death. 

Fulmar also have a salt gland that is situated above the nasal passage that helps desalinate their bodies.  Due to the high amount of ocean water that Fulmar swallow the gland ensures they remain healthy by excreting a highly saline solution.

In Scilly the main cliff-side sub-colonies are on Menawethan and at Daymark, St Martin's with numbers of breeding pairs being fairly consistent over the last 10 years.  However the fledging success has been quite variable and in the last few years it has been consistently lower than the level needed to sustain the population and may help explain the lack of growth in the population across Scilly.

Want to know more?  Check out our latest Seabird Monitoring & Research Technical Report for the most up to date information about how this inspiring species is fairing in Scilly.


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With thanks to BareFoot Photographer for the Fulmar image