Friday, June 19, 2009

Comments and Concerns Abour Terns on Machias Seal Island

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Date:    Wed, 17 Jun 2009 19:41:15 -0300
From: David Christie NBNature listserv
Subject: Re: The Machias Seal Island seabird colony

At 2:45 PM -0300 6/15/09, Diamond, Tony wrote:
Recently David Christie invited me indirectly to summarise the situation with the tern colony on Machias Seal Island from the perspective of one who has studied the seabirds there every year since 1994. The summary below is a belated response to that invitation.
The recent changes include: a "bottom-up" change in the foodweb, initiated by (as yet unclear) oceanographic/climatic changes; this is suggested by the change in diet of the seabirds, showing a steady reduction in the  proportion  of juvenile herring ("brit") with a sharp drop since 2001, in all the species monitored, and their replacement by lower-quality food (euphausiid shrimp, larval fish);

Thanks, Tony. I appreciate your summary of the changes that affect the seabirds breeding on Machias Seal Island, particularly the details about the food organisms, which I had not remembered well from our previous conversation. It reminds one of the changes that saw the disappearance of the huge numbers of RED-NECKED PHALAROPES [Phalarope à bec étroit] from the passages of Passamoquoddy Bay.

I sincerely hope that things will turn around for these birds. It would be a terrible shame to lose such an outstanding colony as Machias Seal Island has been.

David Christie
Mary's Point, Harvey, Albert Co., New Brunswick, Canada

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