Seabird Sightings!

The seabird team’s data acquisition system was up and running with no major issues, either software or hardware. One minor bug was quickly squashed the day we departed Newport, and everything is now running like a well-oiled machine. While working nearshore lines during the first few days of the week, diversity and abundance were exceedingly low, averaging three species per day. Daily totals in the 300 meter survey strip ranged from a low of two to a high of 42, mostly Wilson’s Storm-Petrels and Great Shearwaters. We expected the highlights of the cruise to be the off-shore lines (lines 26 to 22) where we hope to spend some time in the Gulf Stream.

On 6 July this was indeed the case when we began at the south end of line 26, the southernmost point of AMAPPS 2013. That day, in the warm deep blue waters of the Gulf Stream, we doubled our daily average, finding eight species. We recorded many cruise firsts that day: a single Black-capped Petrel, a couple of White-tailed Tropicbirds, several Band-rumped Storm-Petrels and, the most common bird that day, Audubon’s Shearwater. Of the 127 birds recorded in the strip transect this week, about 35% were Wilson’s Storm-Petrels, followed by Great Shearwater (18%). There were also three Loggerhead Sea Turtles and a couple of sharks (Thresher and unidentified) seen in the seabird strip transect this week.

(reported by Michael Force and Nicholas Metheny)

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