A project of Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station in conjunction with the partners and sponsors detailed below.
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Greater and Sooty Shearwaters are among the most abundant seabirds in the Atlantic Ocean. Their annual migration takes them tens of thousands of kilometers in a round trip between their breeding colonies and their winter feeding grounds. In the South Atlantic, Greater Shearwaters nest mainly in the Tristan da Cunha archipelago (www.tristandc.com), while Sooty Shearwaters occupy the Falkland Islands. Very little is known about the marine habitat and migrations of either species in the Atlantic Ocean.
For the past four years, our team of researchers in Atlantic Canada has been studying the diet and habitat use of Greater and Sooty Shearwaters in the Bay of Fundy. In the Bay of Fundy, with the largest tides in the world, tidal currents produce upwelling areas that concentrate prey (mostly herring and krill) for seabirds and marine mammals to feed on.
The goals of this project are:
1) To discover marine wildlife hotspots in the Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine where shearwaters and other animals aggregate to forage.
2) Map seabird hotspots for oil spill preparedness planning in the Bay of Fundy.
3) Study the diet of shearwaters in the Bay of Fundy.
4) Investigate the importance of upwellings as staging areas for shearwaters to gain weight and energy for their long distance migration.
5) Track the long-distance migration of shearwaters to their breeding grounds.
A pilot study in 2006 tracked the migrations of Greater Shearwater for the first time ever (see “Tracking Greater Shearwaters” in the Archived Projects of www.seaturtle.org/tracking). In 2007 we documented Sooty Shearwater migrations across the North Atlantic (see “Sooty Shearwater Atlantic Migration” in the Archived Projects of www.seaturtle.org/tracking). In 2008 we will be tracking both Greater and Sooty Shearwaters at the same time.
This project is being conducted by the Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station (GMWSRS). Established in 1981, the GMWSRS has been active with research, education and conservation around Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy.
For more info contact:
Rob Ronconi, project leader
University of North Carolina Wilmington
Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station
In 2008 this project was funded by: National Geographic Society (Research and Exploration grant), New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund, and Environment Canada's Environmental Damages Fund. Three satellite tags were donated by North Star Science and Technology.