Bermuda Petrel Biomonitoring 2019
“The 2019 Cahow breeding season has been extremely eventful, and has included two separate projects involving fitting adult Cahows with advanced GPS tags to monitor their movements at sea.
The Bermuda petrel biomonitoring project is being carried out by researchers Letizia Campioni of MARE and Monica Silva of cE3c, in partnership with the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources and the Nonsuch Expeditions. The GPS tags were deployed during the egg incubation period in January/February, and again during the chick rearing period in March/April.
Monica and Letizia have already recovered many of these tags, with the first GPS tag with track data during chick-rearing recovered on the 4thApril.
This tag was deployed on a male Cahow (band number E0171) from nest # R836 on Nonsuch Island. This particular bird is a rather special one for several reasons. I monitored him as he hatched on 6th March 2005 in the Green Island # 4 nest, and translocated him to nest no. R833 on Nonsuch Island on 27th May 2005, as part of the project to re-establish nesting Cahows on Nonsuch, where they had not nested since the 1620s. Not only was I able to watch this bird fledge successfully to sea on the night on June 6th, 2005, but it was also one of the first translocated Cahows to return to Nonsuch as an adult, three years later in 2008. It was in fact the first translocated Cahow to stay for the day in a nest burrow on Nonsuch on 19th March, 2008.
By 2011, this bird had settled in the R836 nest, and attracted a new mate (a non-translocated female fitted with band number E0401). This pair has remained together ever since, and has raised 8 chicks in 8 straight years – clearly, he is doing an awesome job as a parent!
The data from the recovered tag revealed that he flew approx. 1200 Km (700 miles) north to feed over the North American continental shelf, in the highly productive waters of Georges Bank, in the Gulf of Maine. It took him 7 days to fly to this area, gather food, and return to feed the chick. During the outbound journey, he was travelling at a speed of approx. 35Km/h, which doubled during the return trip to 70 Km/h (about 44 mph). This is typical of the multi-thousand-mile weekly feeding trips that the adults carry out over a 3-month period to provision the growing chick. A number of additional tags have been recovered since then and are starting to give a very detailed picture of Cahow foraging areas and movements at sea during their breeding season.”
Jeremy Madeiros, Senior Terrestrial Conservation Officer, Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources, BERMUDA
The results of this and future tracking exercises will be incorporated into the curriculum that we are developing. Educators should contact us or sign up to our Newsletter selecting the educator option.