Seabirds encounter natural changes in the ocean environment

Spike Millington, Chief Executive, EAAFP Secretariat

Seabirds encounter natural changes in the ocean environment, such as El Nino events that can affect the currents and bring warm or cold water, which in turn affect the distribution and abundance of prey species, such as fish and squid. However, the risk with global climate change is that such events become less predictable and possibly more regular, so that ability of seabird species to adapt can be affected, both in the short-term and long-term. This massive die-off of Common Murres (Guillemots) was due to unusually warm water temperatures affecting the birds’ food supply. If good conditions return, the seabirds can perhaps compensate with good breeding success and numbers can recover in the short-term. In the long-term however, the impacts of climate change-induced conditions are far from certain, requiring long-term monitoring to be able to assess patterns of response.

Spike Millington is Chief Executive of the Partnership for the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, based in Incheon, Republic of Korea.

Read the article: article/ a56d1bd414bc4bbab1e7feeb2fc5a3 36/researchers-warm-pacific- water-led-vast-seabird-die (February 2017)

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