Environmental contaminants in Arctic tern eggs from Petit Manan Island, Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge, Milbridge, Maine.
Steven E. Mierzykowski Kenneth C. Carr Jennifer L Megyesi
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Petit Manan Island is a 3.5-hectare (~ 9 acre) island that lies approximately 4-kilometers
(2.5-miles) from the coastline of Petit Manan Point, Steuben, Washington County, Maine.
It is one of nearly 40 coastal islands within the Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge.
The treeless, rocky island is the site of an automated U.S. Coast Guard light station, Petit
Manan Light. Prior to automation, the lighthouse was staffed by lightkeepers from 1817
to 1972. During that period, the island was used by nesting Arctic, common and roseate
terns (Sterna paradisea, S. hirundo, and S. dougallii). After the lighthouse was
automated, and USCG personnel had left the island, gulls began nesting on the island.
By 1980, nesting herring gulls (Larus argentatus) and great black-backed gulls (Larus
marinus) had displaced all nesting terns.
A gull control program was initiated in 1983 by refuge personnel. Within 2 weeks of gull
removal, several pairs of terns began recolonizing the island. By 1992, over 1,800 pairs
of terns were nesting on Petit Manan Island, including over 60 pairs of the federallyendangered
roseate tern. Also nesting on the island were approximately 500 pairs of
laughing gulls (Larus atricilla), 10 pairs of Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica) and
several hundred pairs of black guillemots (Cepphus grylle). Because the island became
one of the most diverse seabird nesting colonies in the Gulf of Maine, and the most
important nesting island for roseate terns in Maine, a baseline study of contaminants was
initiated for nesting terns. Being a relatively abundant nesting tern species on Petit
Manan Island, and easily accessible for scientific collection, the Arctic tern was selected
as the indicator species for this contaminant survey.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
http://www.fws.gov/northeast/mainecontaminants/pdf/ARTE%20Report_reformat%202009.pdf, 700 KB
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Maine Contaminants Program