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Sooty Shearwater Migration on Display in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary



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Research by seabird ecologists Josh Adams of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), James Harvey of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML), and their colleagues is on display at a new boating-instruction and safety center at the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, California. The display was designed in part by seabird ecologist Bill Henry (USGS and MLML), who is working with Adams on additional outreach, including a California Current Seabird Telemetry Atlas. The new display is part of a "Crossroads of the Underwater World" exhibit, highlighting the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary's role as a global destination for foraging whales and seabirds.

Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus) taking flight offshore of Capitola, California, in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Above: Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus) taking flight offshore of Capitola, California, in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. USGS photograph by Jonathan Felis, taken September 11, 2012. [larger version]

Adams and colleagues tracked Sooty Shearwaters (Puffinus griseus) with miniature satellite transmitters. Their goal was to identify the birds' critical at-sea feeding grounds and residence times within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (from the coastline out to 200 nautical miles) and within the U.S. west coast's five National Marine Sanctuaries (http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/about/westcoast.html). The results of their research were reported in the November–December 2012 issue of Biological Conservation (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2011.12.032). Wildlife and resource managers may use their tracking data to selectively protect key habitat areas from harm.

Flock of Sooty Shearwaters (Puffinus griseus) offshore of Capitola, California, in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Above: Flock of Sooty Shearwaters (Puffinus griseus) offshore of Capitola, California, in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. USGS photograph by Jonathan Felis, taken September 11, 2012. [larger version]

Funded in part by California Sea Grant, the satellite-tracking study documents the important foraging hotspots within the California Current ecosystem. Sooty Shearwaters travel tens of thousands of miles a year, one of the longest animal migrations ever documented. The birds are also famous for forming flocks so massive they turn the sky dark.

Excerpt from Sooty Shearwater display at new Channel Islands Boating Center
Above: Excerpt from Sooty Shearwater display at new Channel Islands Boating Center. [larger version]

"We see all these birds coming from so far away to our local waters," said Julie Bursek, an education and outreach coordinator with the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). "The science helps us develop our message of why the Channel Islands are such a special and important area for marine life."

The Channel Islands Boating Center, which officially opened April 3, 2012, is operated by California State University Channel Islands as a center for boating, kayaking, rowing, and other water sports. NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary will lead marine education and outreach programs in collaboration with its many partners.


Related Sound Waves Stories
Seabird and Mammal Surveys Off California, Oregon, and Washington
Mar. / Apr. 2012

Related Websites
National Marine Sanctuaries
NOAA
Channel Islands Boating Center
CIBC
Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuaries
NOAA
Use of US National Marine Sanctuaries by migrating sooty shearwaters
Biological Conservation

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Fieldwork
cover story:
Juvenile Surf Smelt and Sand Lance in Central Puget Sound, Washington

Research
Groundbreaking Gas Hydrate Research

Interactive Tool for Assessing Climate-Change Impacts

Outreach
Sooty Shearwater Migration on Display

Meetings
Future of Pacific Northwest Seagrasses in a Changing Climate

Staff USGS Postdoctoral Researcher Studying Effects of Dam Removal

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Mar. / Apr. 2013 Publications

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