As befits the species’ vernacular name, this is the smallest shearwater. Its curious distribution, breeding on islands in the southern Indian and southern Pacific oceans, principally off Australia and New Zealand, as well as in the northeast Atlantic, in Macaronesia, suggests a complex taxonomy, and indeed seven or eight subspecies are presently recognized, one of which is sometimes treated within the Audubon’s Shearwater (Puffinus lherminieri) complex. There are increasing moves to recognize the North Atlantic populations as one, or perhaps even two, separate species. The Little Shearwater is a typical black-and-white Puffinus, which is probably best identified by its flapping flight. In the Neotropics, the Little Shearwater is a poorly known species, recorded only at sea during the non-breeding season, although there are suggestions that the species might breed on islands off Chile, but this remains to be confirmed.