Seabird Island News - Vol. 3 - 15 May 2024

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Tern egg on Jenny Island
A tern egg was found while conducting training on Jenny Island over the weekend. While the viability of the egg is questionable, there is no doubt terns have touched down on the island. Photo: Sue Schubel

Preparing for a Seabird Summer

The scientists joining the Seabird Institute during the nesting season are jumping into multifaceted positions. Upon arrival, they immediately roll up their sleeves and get to work. Island life can be physically and mentally demanding. In preparation, staff undergo an orientation that not only acquaints new teammates with our program but also allows them to practice skills they’ll need throughout the summer. Clearing marine debris, building blinds and tent platforms, climbing over wet rocks and slippery rockweed, and rowing landing boats are some of the physically demanding aspects of the job. Learning about the studies on each island, how to collect and record accurate data, identify forage fish species, and conduct an island-wide census are some of the subjects that keep researchers’ brains buzzing. Island supervisors even got a juggling lesson when talking about how to juggle their responsibilities.

Matinicus Rock Crew 2024
Calm seas allowed for this year's Matinicus Rock team to deploy over the weekend. Thanks to Capt. John Drury for all his support of the Seal Island and Matinicus Rock crews. Photo: Sue Schubel


Island Life

Two more crews deployed this week with teams departing the mainland for Matinicus Rock and Stratton Island. “There’s nothing like settling into life on the island!” one island supervisor remarked upon arriving at their summer home. On Seal Island, researchers were delighted to see that there are already 16 cormorant nests in the Southwest Cove of the island. After a low of just 5 nests last season, it seems like the Great Cormorants have rebounded. 

Puffin Burrow cam screen shot from

This year’s seabird live cams are back and as lively as ever! The cam team was wonderfully efficient in their repairs of winter storm damage, quickly reestablishing a connection to the mainland by setting up a new Starlink connection. Willie and Millie, our Seal Island puffin pair, have worked very quickly this year and are already incubating an egg on cam in their burrow! You can now see them wedged in between the rocks with their egg, occasionally swapping off to fish or find more nesting material.

And it’s not just Willie and Millie – around a third of the puffin burrows on the island already have an egg in them. According to Coco Faber, Seal Island Supervisor, such early nesting is an unusual circumstance! It bodes well for earlier hatches, quicker fledges, and heftier chicks. Given Willie and Millie’s experience in raising pufflings, their speed is not too surprising! To peek inside the puffin burrow, view the bustling boulder berm, or view past highlights, head over to the seabird cams and join the community: Puffin Burrow CamPuffin Burrow (Exterior)Puffin Loafing LedgePuffin Boulder BermGuillemot Burrow.

For additional news, please visit the Seabird Island News index page.

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