An African cousin of our own Northern Gannet, the Cape Gannet (Morus capensis), is under ever increasing pressures that threaten the species’ very survival. Now, new research on the breeding success of the gannets is revealing a particularly gruesome picture.
The decline in prey fish, documented worldwide, is hitting the Cape Gannet particularly hard. Overfishing of sardines and anchovies have compromised the birds’ ability to feed their chicks. At the same time, pelicans, kelp gulls and seals, also facing declining prey stocks, have begun gulping down gannet chicks as an alternative to their usual diets of fish. Pelicans in particular are having a devastating effect on gannet colonies as the large, pouchbilled birds are able to eat chicks as large as four pounds!
Much of the new information on the birds has been generated by GPS transmitters attached to a number of Cape Gannets, illuminating their foraging strategies and diets. You can check out the full story at Science Daily.