It’s a rainy, meditative morning here in New Hampshire, and as a snapping turtle lays eggs near my radish patch, I fall to the task of summarizing SEANET’s activities over the past year for our funders. I enjoy this activity, in some ways, as it’s a welcome opportunity to look at our many accomplishments. Despite my having been able to devote only 5-10 hours a week to SEANET this year, I think we’ve done alright for ourselves. Have a look at our summary and see if you agree. Thanks to all of you volunteers and supporters for keeping this program going on a shoestring!
This year, we continued our volunteer recruiting activities, focusing on the Northeast and South Carolina. Trainings in Wellfleet and Duxbury, MA as well as Branford, CT have generated 20 new volunteers so far. Nearly fifty people have signed up to attend a training workshop in Charleston, SC on June 13, and an additional workshop is planned for coastal Connecticut this month.
We continue to find new and novel uses for our data, and have entered into an agreement with CapeWind to facilitate the monitoring of seabird mortality before and after the implementation of their Nantucket Sound wind farm project. The SEANET database is now automatically feeding into the Wildlife Health Event Reporter (www.wher.org) at USGS, and the public can view all SEANET reports of beached birds. We have made a major push to review and verify all historic SEANET survey reports, and our data verification is now up to date, reflecting real-time mortality and facilitating use by collaborators. Our large archive of frozen seabird tissue samples from SEANET necropsies have been transported to the American Museum of Natural History in New York so that they may be made available and readily accessible to researchers.
SEANET tracked several mortality events this winter, including heavy die-offs of Razorbills, Common Loons, and unusually high numbers of dead Horned Grebes and Atlantic Puffins. These data will be included in a presentation to the Wildlife Disease Association meeting in July. We also presented a well-attended talk on Common Eider mortalities at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary on Cape Cod, and for the second year in a row, presented a seminar on citizen science and beached bird surveys to the Tufts Masters of Conservation Medicine students.
Work on the Guide to Beached Birds of the Southeastern United States is accelerating, and all necessary photos and permissions have been obtained from a variety of sources, including SEANET volunteers, amateur and professional photographers and bloggers, and the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard. Most of the book’s content has been passed to the design and layout team, and printing is anticipated this fall.
Hurray for SEANET!