Medium-sized, shearwaters fly near the surface, hence their name. They nest on remote islands, often in burrows. They are pelagic, spending most of their lives at sea, though during breeding season they may remain within 50 miles of their home islands. They take fish and squid at the surface and may pursue fish for short distances underwater. Various species include the Streaked, the Sooty, the Pink-Footed, the Flesh-Footed, the Little, the Giant (as large as an albatross), the Short-Tailed, and the Wedge-Tailed.

The 'Ua'u Kani, or Wedge-tailed Shearwater (pictured left), is the most common tropical shearwater in the North Pacific. In Hawai'i, the Wedge-tailed Shearwater nests in remote areas like Ka'ena Point on O'ahu. A state-managed program for trapping cats, mongooses and dogs in the 23-acre Natural Area Reserve at Ka'ean has led to an increase in nesting birds; these land mammals are known to eat chicks and eggs of the shearwater and other nesting seabirds, such as the manu ka'upu, or albatross and the iwa, or frigate bird. (Bunky Bakutis, "Seabirds thrive after predator-trapping effort" Honolulu Advertiser Dec. 8, 1996 A23).