Albatrosses and petrels (Procellariiformes), also known as tubenoses, are a group of birds that includes diving petrels, gadfly petrels, albatrosses, shearwaters, fulmars and prions. There are about 107 living species of tubenoses. Members of this group spend most of their time at sea, gliding over the open water and dipping down to snatch a meal of fish, plankton or other small marine animals. Tubenoses, though widespread and known throughout the world's oceans, reach their highest diversity in the oceans around New Zealand.
Tubenoses are colonial birds and return to land only to breed. The breeding sites they select vary between species but in general tubenoses prefer sites on remote islands and on rugged coastal cliffs. Tubenoses are monogamous birds and form long-term bonds between mating pairs.
A unifying characteristic of this group is their nostrils which are enclosed in external tubes that run from the base of their bill towards its tip. Tube-noses can drink seawater. They remove the salt from the water using a special gland located at the base of their bill. The salt waste is excreted through their tubular nostrils.
The largest of all species tubenoses is the wandering albatross, a bird whose wingspan can reach some 12 feet across. The smallest species of tubenose is the least storm petrel, a bird with a wingspan of just over one foot.