These articles recently appeared in journals, including the announcement of a proposed new species! Discovering a new bird on the planet may seem unlikely, but researchers are sure they have found a previously unknown Shearwater, one of the most amazing seabirds. Like Albatrosses, Shearwaters soar out over the ocean, clocking hundreds and even thousands of miles on feeding flights. The new species, Bryan's Shearwater needs attention.............Here is the citation along with two other articles:
Pyle, P., Welch, A.J., and R.C. Fleischer. 2011. A new species of shearwater recorded from Midway Atoll, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Condor 113 (3): 518-527.
The authors are proposing a new species based on a specimen collected on Midway in 1963. This small shearwater's breeding and nonbreeding ranges are not known and the authors call for more investigation. The ocean is vast and research opportunities like this might call a young scientist to seek information needed to possibly save this bird from disappearing before we know much about it.
Doughty, R.W. 2010. Saving the Albatross: Fashioning an environmental regime. Geographical Review. 100 (2): 216-228.
I have to say I've only been able to read an abstract of this article, but look forward to a trip to the UW library to read more of what Doughty has to say in this review of the history of exploitation as well as protective efforts meant to save albatrosses, one of the most threatened of all bird groups. Saving Albatrosses is all about saving the world oceans since these birds reflect so many of our impacts, both negative and postive.
Volter, S.C., Archibald, K., Morgan, G., and Morgan L. 2011. The use of plastic debris as nesting material by a colonial seabird and associated entanglement mortality. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 62 (1): 168-172.
Plastics appear in nests of many birds. Check out an Osprey nest in Wyoming or Montana, and you might see some orange baling twine dangling from the stick structure. Out at sea, many birds pick plastic as food, but, as these authors report, Northern Gannets gather great quantities for their nesting material. They studied a Gannet colony at which nests were found to contain an average of about 470g of plastic, mostly rope, for a colony total of more than 18 tons. Yearly entanglement in the colony ranged from 33-109 birds, mainly nestlings.
As more and more plastics enter the sea, it is not surprising to see birds "repurpose" the material. Most of us can remember photos of those six pack rings entangling sea creatures, including birds, turtles, and marine mammals. Rope tangles wash ashore on all ocean beaches and so,
THANK YOU TO ALL WHO WILL BE PARTICIPATING THIS WEEKEND IN THE INTERNATIONAL BEACH CLEANUP.
If you live away from the ocean, help out by cleaning a stream, lake shore, or other waterway. You might be saving an Albatross and removing rope that would otherwise become a hazard for young Gannets!