Superstar Seanetter stellar citizen scientist

18 11 2010

Mike Bjornholm walks Corporation Beach in Dennis, Massachusetts. Corporation Beach, known to us as WB_45, is located about mid-bicep on the flexed arm that is Cape Cod. When Mike walked his beach on November 13th, he found a few dead birds, and he also provided us with a fine example of the SEANET data collection methods at work.

An eider initially tagged on another SEANET beach washed up on WB_45!

Mike found a couple dead Common Eiders (a typical find this time of year on the Cape), as well as a dead Thick-billed Murre. He also found an additional Common Eider with a SEANET orange cable tie through its nostrils. This was not a bird that Mike had tagged, which means the carcass made a previous appearance on another SEANET beach, was washed back out to sea, and then deposited on Mike’s beach. This sort of recycling of carcasses is something we have long suspected might occur, but before we began using the cable ties, we could never know for certain. Now we do!

The next step will be to obtain individually numbered cable ties for all of our volunteers so we can determine the exact path tagged carcasses follow. Such numbered ties are being used on a limited basis by a few Seanetters, including Dennis Minsky in Provincetown, MA. We hope to widen the scope of this experiment soon, sending the ties to a few volunteers in Maine as well.

Mike also sent along photos of a dead seal he saw on his beach which had been tagged by the local stranding network, and he sent a picture of a subadult Northern Gannet he found just outside his official SEANET territory. We commend Mike for not formally reporting a bird outside the limits of his walk, as that would artificially inflate our carcass encounter rate, but we always welcome informal reports of such things via email, and are always happy to see photos of anything interesting, live or dead.

Dead seal on WB_45. The carcass was tagged by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Finally, a note about a earlier post, in which we asked your opinions about a photo of a gull with a bizarre yellow encrustation on its legs, tail and wingtips. Helen Rasmussen, who walks for us in Maine, thought the material looked like spray foam insulation. Your SEANET blogger thought the very same, as did a few other people who looked at the pictures. The question then would be, how did the bird get into such stuff? But really, isn’t that always the question with gulls?



One response

18 11 2010
Hilke Breder

“The question then would be, how did the bird get into such stuff? But really, isn’t that always the question with gulls?” Ironic? It’s not always a natural occurrence. See recent reports on gulls having been fitted with beer can collars!

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