Spatial and Temporal Diversity and Abundance of Seabirds in the San Juan Channel, Washington during the summers of 2012-2014
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Marine birds are an excellent indicator of the health of the Salish Sea, located in between British Columbia, Canada and Washington State, United States. There have been research projects conducted in the 1970’s and 1990’s that revealed a significant decrease in seabird populations in the area. However, these projects only focused on the reduction of seabird populations during the winters. Friday Harbor Laboratories is currently attempting to gather data for the summers. During the summer of 2014, four surveys were conducted in one transect of the San Juan Channel. Results revealed an overwhelming majority of alcids, mainly rhinoceros auklets. Most of the seabirds aggregated near the northern and southern ends of the transect surveyed. Comparing the data to the survey results from 2012 and 2013, 2012 had a much higher density of seabirds than in 2013 and 2014. The community composition of the seabirds in the region remained steady over the three years. There is no apparent trend for the aggregation of birds in certain zones within the transect. There is also no apparent pattern with the number of birds seen in relation to tides or current speed. However, there could be a possible correlation with global weather patterns, suggesting that large number of seabirds can be associated with La Niña conditions. There is not enough data in the three years of the surveys to confirm any observations.