11451Seabirds on the move in Humboldt Current and Central America.
- Jul 2, 2014
I thought I would fill you in on what is happening to the south of us. Although the El Niño is still predicted and not official, the water off the Galapagos, Ecuador, N and C Peru is quite a bit warmer than usual. Here is a link to a map of current Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies in this region
This is causing a massive shift in food availability for seabirds there. On my facebook page I have posted photos from my friend Ronny Peredo of the massive die off mainly of Peruvian Booby, and Guanay Cormorants being experienced in northernmost Chile. Link to that is here https://www.facebook.com/alvarosadventures
The die off has been intense in the last two weeks of June, includes mostly juvenile birds. There is evidence that some birds are moving south from Peru as dead birds in Arica include Blue-footed Boobies, a species considered a vagrant this far south. But there are plenty of birds moving north as well. It is still a way’s south of us, but these records should at least have us looking carefully not only on pelagics but at coastal seabird congregations. These are among the records I have heard of second hand, so they require verification.
Peruvian Booby – on Galapagos, as well as Panama! Their typical range is to southernmost Ecuador.
Inca Tern – recent sightings off Costa Rica! First for that country as I gather, also sightings in Panama.
Grey Gull – sightings in Panama
Coastal Ecuador has seen a large influx of Inca Terns, Peruvian Boobies, and even Humboldt Penguins.
Waved Albatross – sighting in Costa Rica.
As is expected there is little to no information on the pelagic birds, other than the Waved Albatross noted above. There has been a reported widespread nesting failure in breeding Sooty Shearwaters in New Zealand which some scientists are thinking may be a precursor (predictor) of a strong El Niño. So what is going offshore is still a mystery, but if the nearshore seabirds are being shuffled about due to warm waters and low foods, some effect is likely also with the offshore birds. It is a stretch to predict or say that this will have any effect on what we see offshore here this season in California, but it is certainly a situation of note, and something interesting may show up. A California Waved Albatross would be a good one, it may also be a good year to look for Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel in the storm petrel flocks. So many possibilities! The first shot at going out that I have is at the end of this month, we shall see what shows up then.