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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Greater Shearwater Habitat Use and Movements in the Gulf of Maine:

Region 5, July 31, 2013
Greater shearwater with satellite tag
Greater shearwater with satellite tag - Photo Credit: n/a

In July 2013, biologists from Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge assisted researchers from the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in satellite tagging 10 great shearwaters (Puffinus gravis) off the coast of Cape Cod.


The Refuge is partnering with the Sanctuary to identify foraging hotspots, migratory pathways, and gather information on residency time in the Gulf of Maine. In recent years, refuge biologists have deployed 20 satellite tags on shearwater further north in the Gulf of Maine. Unfortunately prior efforts to tag shearwaters in the southern portion of the Gulf had been unsuccessful. This year, the crew was equipped with smaller (9.5 gm) tags that allowed them to tag any shearwater that they captured.

This tagging effort will provide valuable information on habitat use in the southern portion of the Gulf of Maine and also assist the Sanctuary in their efforts to evaluate the role of sand lance and pelagic seabirds in the marine ecosystem. The solar tags will continue transmitting data for approximately one year. Data will be shared with graduate students at UMASS Amherst and Acadia University in Nova Scotia.

Contact Info: Beth Goettel, 207-594-0600, beth_goettel@fws.gov