SEANET investigates loon die-off on Long Island

15 12 2008
Red-throated Loons have been washing up dead on the shores of Long Island

Red-throated Loons have been washing up dead on the shores of Long Island

This story out of Long Island has been developing over the course of the past few weeks.  Our SEANET coordinator for Long Island, Peg Hart, has gone above and beyond in this investigation and sends us the following account:

“Since November 23, 2008 dead loons have been appearing in large numbers on the ocean beaches between Amagansett and Montauk, New York.  As of today, we have found 74 birds in total. The majority are Red-throated Loons, but a few Common Loons, gulls and Gannets have also been found. Necropsies performed to date  indicate that the cause of death is drowning, and gill nets (used for fishing) are suspected. Once we have completed our analysis, we plan to work with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) marine resources to draft a much needed amendment to New York State fisheries regulations, with a goal to reduce bycatch of migratory birds.”

If you have any information pertaining to this case or sightings of dead seabirds on Long Island, please contact Peg Hart at sshearwater@yahoo.com.

This die-off event is, unfortunately, all too common. After all, fishermen and fish-eating seabirds are drawn to the same productive waters. We see similar phenomena involving Loons and Northern Gannets up and down the eastern seaboard. This time of year, when the birds are overwintering off our shores, such mortality events tend to reach their peak.

A sample of the birds washing up on New York beaches

A sample of the birds washing up on New York beaches

Peg is doing a remarkable job of documenting this event and her necropsy findings in order to provide high quality evidence should there in fact be a push to change fishing regulations in order to lessen the impact on seabirds. We want to thank her for her time, thoroughness and dedication, and for being SEANET’s on the ground presence during this die-off event.

We will keep you posted on further developments in this story as they become available.



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