Every Bird Matters
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Posts Tagged ‘Krill’

September 22, 2009

Clues starting to surface in Farallones bird deaths

The outbreak of seabird deaths this spring and summer in Northern California has scientists turning their attention to krill and how some animals can adapt to changing foodstocks and others don’t.

In a story in the San Francisco Chronicle today, researchers are studying how the disappearance of Anchovies – that left diving birds like Cormorants starving – has affected other animals like humpback whales.

The whales adapt better and have turned their feeding attention to more krill, a type of shrimp-like marine invertebrate animal. Cormorants haven’t or can’t adapt to feeding on other forms of ocean food.

“We’ve had an extraordinary number of dead animals,” said Jan Roletto, the research coordinator for the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. “It seems to be that the animals that suffered the most were the animals that forage on anchovies.”

Here at IBRRC we saw huge numbers of dead and dying Brandt’s cormorants along beaches in Central and Northern California. The birds can dive as deep as 300 feet for prey. According to PRBO researchers the birds did not produce any chicks this year on the Farallones or on Alcatraz Islands. This is compared to a total of 15,000 chicks in 2007.

According to scientists, the Cassin’s Auklet, a small seabird that feeds on krill, has had above-average nesting success this year.

Read more: Hunt for clues to sea life deaths at Farallones

August 27, 2008

Good news: Krill on the rebound

In a sea of bad there’s some really good news: Krill and the cold currents that helps sustain this valuable food source is finally showing some improvement. Krill is integral to the ocean food chain as its the primary food source for many marine mammals and fish.

In a recent San Francisco Chronicle story, scientists studying the Northern Pacific Ocean currents are seeing an abundance of nutrient rich currents:

For the time being, many species of sea birds, fish and marine mammals are flourishing, and the reason lies largely in an unexpected change in two features of the ocean: The California current, flowing down the Pacific coast from Canada to Mexico, is colder than it has been in years, and strong northwest winds have increased the upwelling of cold water from just above the sea floor to the surface.

Read the complete story in the San Francisco Chronicle