Monday, 6 June 2016

Conservation Update: Bird Island

Bird Island Conservation: Sooty Terns all around!

The Sooty Terns are here! If you look to the skies above you will be amazed by the number of terns in the sky. There are thousands of them all around! At Sooty Tern Point (North Point), which is where the colony is located, you will certainly be left in awe by the sheer number of these birds. 

Clutches of Sooty Terns have begun landing and at the centre of the colony, there is a particularly large group. Soon the birds will begin to lay and to incubate, which is about a 28 day process. So by July the first eggs will have hatched.

Research Work

In July 2015 Dr. Camille Lebarbenchon, Assistant Professor at the University of Reunion Island, stayed with us for 2 weeks to carry out research work on the birds of the island. He has since then, been examining all samples and data collected.

“Good progress has been made on the analyses of the biological samples and GLS deployed on noddies” states Dr. Lebarbenchon. He has had very interesting results from the data collected from tracking. 

It seems that the noddies from Bird Island are exploiting other areas than Sooty terns during their migration. Instead of flying in the direction towards the Indian sub-continent, it seems that they tend to either move to the Maldives or to Madagascar.

With regards to pathogen detection, as for previous years, Dr. Lebarbenchon hasn’t found anything disconcerting but rather, has obtained very exciting results on microorganisms that could be shared and transmitted between marine mammals, dolphins in particular and terns, potentially during foraging. 

Dr. Lebarbenchon is planning on continuing his research work as he is very interested in understanding the interactions between seabirds and their pathogens, particularly in relation to bird migrations. He now has four consecutive years of data from the Island. The Bird Island team will be continuing to assist Dr. Lebarbenchon who believes that the island “represents a major site for the development of long-term research studies in the Indian Ocean. There are not that many sites in the world where this type of research is conducted, so this is extremely valuable from a scientific point of view.”

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