A project of Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station in conjunction with the partners and sponsors detailed below.
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Greater Shearwaters are among the most abundant seabirds in the Atlantic Ocean. They nest in the Tristan da Cunha island group, the most remote inhabited island on earth. These islands are located in the middle of the South Atlantic (2778 km west of South Africa), thus these birds make a formidable migration every year. Greater Shearwaters travel over 10,000 km to reach the eastern seaboard of North America. Very little is known about the marine habitat and migrations of Greater Shearwaters in the Atlantic Ocean.
For the past five years, our team of researchers in Atlantic Canada has been studying the diet and habitat use of Greater Shearwaters in the Bay of Fundy. The Bay of Fundy has the largest tides in the world, and 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 Greater 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 Greater Shearwaters in the Bay of Fundy.
4) Investigate the importance of upwellings as staging areas for Greater Shearwaters to gain weight and energy for their long distance migration.
5) Track the long-distance migration of Greater 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 tracked both Greater and Sooty Shearwaters at the same time (see “Shearwaters in the Atlantic: 2008” in the Archived Projects of www.seaturtle.org/tracking).
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 2009 this project was funded by: Killam Trusts, Ocean Fund, Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environmental Damages Fund and National Geographic Society (Research and Exploration grant)