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Restoring Rare Seabirds at the Channel Islands

Xantus' murrelet chick

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Date: May 2, 2012
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725

At the May "From Shore to Sea" lecture National Park Service biologist Laurie Harvey will discuss efforts to restore rare seabirds and their habitats on the Channel Islands.

The Channel Islands are vital habitat for seabirds, providing essential nesting and feeding grounds for 99% of seabirds that nest in southern California. Twelve species of seabirds depend on the rich marine resources and the isolation of these offshore islands to provide food and undisturbed nesting grounds safe from predators.

Channel Islands National Park and its partners have worked together to restore, monitor, and conserve critical nesting habitat for a variety of key species like Xantus's murrelet, ashy storm-petrel and Cassin's auklets. The Channel Islands host half of the world's population of ashy storm-petrels and 80 percent of the U.S. breeding population of Xantus's murrelets.

Seabirds are impacted by factors including predation, habitat disturbance, contaminants, oil spills, invasive species, and changes in the ocean environment. For example, DDT, a long-lived pesticide, introduced into the marine environment in the late 20th century has severely impacted seabird populations at the islands.

Efforts such as native plant habitat restoration and social attraction techniques to enhance breeding success are ongoing on three different islands, offshore rocks, and islets. These projects have been funded by the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program (MSRP), a multi-agency government program dedicated to restoring natural resources harmed by DDTs and PCBs released into the environment.

Harvey has Bachelors and Masters of Science degrees, respectively, from the University of California at Davis and San Diego State University. She has worked in seabird research and conservation for over a decade and currently oversees monitoring and recovery of seabirds at the park.

This talk will be held on May 9, 2012. The "From Shore to Sea" lecture series is sponsored by Channel Islands National Park to further the understanding of current research on the Channel Islands and surrounding waters. The lectures occur at 7:00 p.m. on the second Wednesday of March, April, May, September, October, and November at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center, 1901 Spinnaker Drive in the Ventura Harbor. The programs are free and open to the public.

Did You Know?

Island deer mouse

The endemic island deer mouse is the only native terrestrial mammal common to all the Channel Islands and is larger than mainland deer mice. Densities of deer mice on the islands can be greater than anywhere else in the world. This makes you happy if you're an owl, but not if you're a camper.