Common Eider die-off on Cape Cod

12 05 2009
Sites where Common Eider carcasses have been reported. Great Island in Wellfleet has been the epicenter of the event.

Red markers represent Common Eider carcass reports. SEANET beaches are shown in blue. Great Island in Wellfleet has been the epicenter of the event.

About a week and a half ago, SEANET received word of dead and dying Common Eiders turning up on the shores of Wellfleet on Cape Cod. This was hardly surprising since eiders undergo periodic mortality events, most commonly in the Spring and Fall. See our previous post, “Common Eider Research Update” for more on this.

This time around, we received reports from staff at the National Parks Service on the Cape that approximately 60-65 eiders, mainly males, were found dead on Great Island. On the map shown above, the red markers denote eider carcasses. Great Island is located at the center of the screen, and is largely obscured by a slew of red markers. Lesser numbers of eiders have been reported by Seanetters from farther south in Eastham all the way up to Provincetown at the tip of the Cape.

This die-off event is proving to be relatively small scale and mild at this point. We welcome any and all reports from the field on this event, however, so if you are a Cape Cod Seanetter, please let us know what you see out there, whether it is on your official SEANET beach or elsewhere in your travels.

If and when we get more information on this event, you will be the first to know!




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