Guatemala borders two oceans, the Pacific and the Atlantic, with 260 km of coastline along the Pacific and 150 km of coastline along the Caribbean. Although there are no islands off the Guatemalan coasts as potential breeding sites for marine birds, about 40 of these species use Guatemalan off-shore waters for feeding and molting.
Among them are Arctic breeders such as Pomarine Jaeger, Sabine's Gull, and Red Phalarope, breeding birds of the north-eastern tropical and sub-tropical Pacific such as Black Storm-Petrel and Least Storm-Petrel, breeding birds of the southeastern tropical Pacific such as Galapagos Shearwater, Pink-footed Shearwater, and Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel, as well as wide-ranging seabirds such as Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Parkinson's Petrel, and Red-billed Tropicbird.
The relatively cool Pacific waters off Guatemala are richer in food than the Caribbean. Vertical sea currents along the Middle American Trench at the subduction zone between the Cocos tectonic plate and the Caribbean and North American plates, as well as horizontal ocean currents (Humboldt Current, California Current, Equatorial Counter Current) provide food sources for pelagic birds on the ocean surface off Guatemalan Pacific coast. The northern edge of the Middle American Trench runs between 50 and 80 km in front of the Guatemalan coastline.
Many seabirds can be seen in this belt over the continental shelf including shearwaters, storm-petrels, boobies, jaegers, tropicbirds, gulls, terns, and frigatebirds. Gadfly petrels of the genus Pterodroma, Parkinson's Petrel Procellaria parkinsoni, and White Tern Gygis alba do usually not fly over the continental shelf off Guatemala, but stay over the deep Pacific. Get in touch to organize your pelagic birding trip in Guatemala .