Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Research in May

It won't be long before we have some of our researchers return for two projects. While most people will be arriving in July, Dr. Rob Ronconi and Sarah Wong will be arriving the last week of May to go to Kent Island for the week to begin a study of herring gulls. Herring gulls are very difficult to catch at sea but Rob and Sarah will be trying to obtain samples (small bits of feather and blood) from herring gulls that are beginning to nest on Kent Island. The birds will be temporarily restrained, the samples taken and released as quickly as possible to minimize the stress to the birds and disturbance to nesting. This project is part of Rob's continuing study of diet in seabirds. Satellite telemetry tags will also be attached to some of the gulls to determine what areas they are utilizing in the Bay and will be compared to areas used by sooty and greater shearwaters. These feeding "hot spots" are important to define as a recognition of potential areas that need protection from such damaging events such as oil spills. In all likelihood these are also important areas for marine mammals.

Kent Island is the field station for Bowdoin College in Bowdoin, ME. The island was purchased by Stirling Rockefeller and donated to the college. Their main focus is nesting seabirds (Leach's Storm Petrels, Common Eiders, etc.) but also study fog and nesting land birds. Bowdoin College also now owns two other islands in the Three Island group. Sheep Island has a small nesting colony of common terns that we helped for a number of years until circumstances prevented us from continuing. The colony was very busy last year and we hope that it will continue.

Dr. Heather Koopman and Dr. Andrew Westgate will also be arriving the last week of May for about a week. Heather has a project looking at lipid (fat) content in lobster eggs and she goes out lobster fishing with some of the local lobster fishermen to obtain the necessary samples for analysis. The more fat in an egg, the better chance of survival of the egg.

We will be opening our Gaskin Museum of Marine Life toward the end of May, beginning of June.

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