Spectacled petrel migration discoveries

Spectacled petrel

From Wildlife Extra:

Spectacled petrel migration tracked– In danger of drowning in Brazilian longline fishery

09/05/2009 14:41:53 Groundbreaking Study Reveals Rare Bird’s Remarkable Journey

May 2009. The first ever satellite study of the globally vulnerable Spectacled Petrel has revealed new information about the rare bird’s ecology, with important conservation implications.

“For the first time, the species was tracked from its winter feeding grounds all the way to its only breeding site across thousands of miles of ocean,” said Dr. George Wallace, American Bird Conservancy’s Vice President for International Programs. “The data revealed a substantial overlap of Spectacled Petrel feeding grounds with the preferred fishing areas of the Brazilian longlining fleet, indicating that the birds are at high risk from drowning on longline hooks.”

Danger from longline fisheries

Seabirds often follow fishing vessels looking for a free meal, and can drown when they try to take the bait attached to longline fishing hooks. The Spectacled Petrel has a breeding population of just 9,000 pairs. It was only recognized as a unique species, separate from the White-chinned Petrel, a decade ago, and up until now, very little was known about its non-breeding distribution. However, thanks to a donation of satellite transmitters by North Star North Star Science and Technology, LLC, in partnership with American Bird Conservancy, researchers were able to obtain groundbreaking data on the petrel’s non-breeding activities in Brazil.

5 birds tagged

Leandro Bugoni and his colleagues from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and Projeto Albatroz, Brazil, captured five birds off the coast of Brazil using handnets. They attached transmitters to them that provided exact locations every 30 minutes, enabling the researchers to track the birds’ movements, day and night, for about a month.

8,800 mile journey

“The petrels travelled vast distances, each covering up to 45,000 square miles of open ocean. One bird travelled an astounding 8,800 miles in just 49 days,” said Bugoni. Its final journey was from the coast of Brazil all the way to the aptly named Inaccessible Island, the species’ sole breeding grounds in the South Atlantic, mid-way between South America and Africa, at times flying as far as 370 miles in a single day.

To the researchers’ great surprise, rather than foraging in the cold, shallow waters of the productive currents close to shore, the birds mostly fed further out to sea, in waters nearly two miles deep, and along the continental shelf break.

Brazilian longline fleet sets 9 million hooks

The Brazilian pelagic longline fleet now sets about 9 million hooks annually. “We know there are high rates of bycatch of both Spectacled and White-chinned Petrels, and also two albatross species, the Atlantic Yellow-nosed and the Black-browed, both of which are considered globally endangered,” said Tatiana Neves, a researcher with the Brazilian conservation group Projeto Albatroz, who has been studying seabird bycatch in the region for over a decade.

Through the satellite tracking project, the Spectacled Petrels were observed travelling similar distances and at similar speeds both day and night, indicating that, unlike the White-chinned Petrels, they may forage around the clock. This is significant for the conservation of the species, because, if verified, it means that mitigation measures must be used at all times of day to prevent bird deaths in the fishery.

Concern is growing about the huge number of seabirds being killed by fisheries in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said yesterday: here.


Manatee, turtle rescued

This is a manatee video.

From Wildlife Extra:

Biologists rescue manatee entangled in fishing line in Florida Keys

11/05/2009 12:13:34

April 2009. Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, with the help of the Miami Seaquarium and the Dolphin Research Center, rescued a manatee from Tarpon Basin in Key Largo.

More than two years ago, FWC biologists learned of a manatee with a front flipper severely entangled in monofilament fishing line. The biologists made several attempts to rescue the adult female manatee. They were concerned about the manatee’s chance for survival, because fishing line can cut off circulation, leading to amputation of the flipper and possibly death.

Earlier in the week, a biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey was able to spot the animal and place a tracking device on the tail. This device allowed FWC biologists to track the manatee and follow it to an area suitable for rescue.

Because of the severity of the entanglement, FWC biologists transported the manatee to the Miami Seaquarium for removal of the monofilament line. The animal will be released back into the wild once it is medically cleared by veterinarians.

For more information on manatee research, visit http://research.MyFWC.com/manatee

Also from Wildlife Extra:

Endangered Green sea turtle rescued for a second time- From a car

10/05/2009 23:12:37

Endangered sea turtle in Miami man’s cooler

May 2009. One green sea turtle has been on quite a journey during the past year. After being stranded with a shell wound in April 2008, the turtle was rescued and rehabilitated at Miami Seaquarium, before being released back into the wild in March 2009, only to be snatched by a Miami fisherman on April 16.

While on routine patrol, officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) stopped a group of fishermen on the J.F.K. Causeway in North Bay Village in Miami-Dade County, and asked to see their buckets. Officers inspected the buckets and found mullet and sardines. At that point, officers noticed a large cooler inside the truck of one of the fishermen.

The owner of the truck identified himself as Ramon Puente of Miami. Officers asked Puente if he had fish or other marine life in the cooler, and he said no. As officers were opening the cooler, Puente advised them he had caught a sea turtle and was going to take it to a rehabilitation facility. Officers opened the cooler and found a live, endangered green sea turtle inside. Puente was charged with unlawful possession of a marine turtle, which is a third-degree felony.

The sea turtle was returned to the Miami Seaquarium, where veterinarians will determine if the animal is healthy enough to return to the wild.

Sea turtle nesting season has begun on Florida’s coast. Sea turtles are protected by US state and federal laws. It is against US law to take, possess, disturb, mutilate, destroy, sell, transfer, molest or harass marine turtles, nests or eggs.

Highest ever number of Manatees recorded in Florida: here.

Unprecedented number of cold-related manatee deaths in Florida: here.

Manatees in Crystal River, Florida from Oceana on Vimeo.

This video is called Manatees in Crystal River, Florida.

Sea World returns a manatee to the wild: here.

Belize Manatees a Separate Subspecies, DNA Confirms: here.

Manatees are endangered marine mammals susceptible to cold stress when the water temperature drops in winter. Florida’s power plants provide warm water.

Sierra Leone: Freetown — Owing to the indiscriminate and massive hunting, killing and sale of the West African Manatee (Mammy Wata), an endangered aquatic mammal, key Fisheries and Marine stakeholders, including Paramount Chiefs, Councillors, hunters and fishermen from various parts of the country, have at a one-day consultative workshop vowed to assist government and partners in implementing strategies that would enhance the conservation and management of the mammal: here.

New Science for Protecting Manatees: here.