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Satellite Tracking

Why did animal X stop transmitting?

Greater Shearwaters in the Gulf of Maine

A project of US Fish and Wildlife Service in conjunction with the partners and sponsors detailed below.

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NameSpeciesLife StageRelease DateLast LocationDays Transmitted
Abbott Greater Shearwatern/a2012-08-212012-12-19120
Compass Greater Shearwatern/a2012-08-212013-01-15147
Cross Greater Shearwatern/a2012-08-212012-10-1050
Franklin Greater Shearwatern/a2012-08-212012-11-0778
Marshall Greater Shearwatern/a2012-08-212012-12-23124
Metinic Greater Shearwatern/a2012-08-212012-10-3171
Roberts Greater Shearwatern/a2012-08-212012-12-13114
Seal Greater Shearwatern/a2012-08-212012-12-29130
Trumpet Greater Shearwatern/a2012-08-212012-11-1485

Click on an animal's name for maps and more information.


The Gulf of Maine supports a tremendous diversity of pelagic seabirds, which depend on our highly productive waters to raise their young and complete their annual lifecycle. For species such as Atlantic puffin and razorbills, the Gulf of Maine represents the southern limit of their breeding distribution in the United States. As with any species at the fringe of their distribution, these birds are likely to be highly sensitive to changes in habitat and prey availability resulting from global climate change. Greater shearwaters breed in the southern hemisphere and migrate to the Gulf of Maine during the summer months to forage on the abundant supply of prey species. Managers are concerned that increasing sea surface temperatures, changes in commercial harvest rates of key forage species, and potential offshore energy development could now threaten the ability of this region to support pelagic seabirds.

Maine’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy identifies greater shearwater as a priority species for research, and specifically notes the need to conduct shearwater surveys and identify foraging habitat. We believe this research will promote the conservation of this priority species during offshore energy development and increase our understanding of the potential implications of climate change on pelagic seabirds.


1) Determine foraging “hotspots” where pelagic seabirds aggregate in the Gulf of Maine

2) Determine migration pathways, habitat use, and residency times for greater shearwaters in the Gulf of Maine

3) Document characteristics of marine habitat occupied by pelagic seabirds, and predict how environmental change (i.e. climate change or offshore development) may influence the availability of these habitats

4) Contribute to ongoing research monitoring the migration of greater shearwaters throughout the Atlantic Ocean, and their return to their breeding grounds in the southern hemisphere.

This study will combine direct observations of pelagic seabirds and associated ocean parameters (i.e. sea surface temperatures, depth, and primary productivity) with data generated by the satellite transmitters. This will allow us to determine which habitat characteristics pelagic seabirds are selecting, and the satellite data will provide landscape level use of the Gulf of Maine by pelagic seabirds.

This information will play a critical role in the evaluation of offshore energy development for both conservation agencies and potential developers. While the conservation community is clearly supportive of green energy, we believe it is imperative that wildlife conservation must be considered during the planning and development of these projects. This research will help us guide the energy development into regions of the coast that are less likely to support large concentrations of pelagic seabirds.

The shearwaters in this study were named for islands protected by Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. For more information please contact:

  • The presentation of data here does not constitute publication. All data remain copyright of the project partners. Maps or data on this website may not be used or referenced without explicit written consent.
  • If you have questions or would like to request the use of maps or data for this project please contact

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