New Study: Population of Threatened Northwest Seabird Dropped 30 Percent in a Decade.

Dec 21, 2012

The population of a reclusive northwest sea bird has declined by about a third in just 10 years. That’s

Marbled Murrelet.
Credit Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife

according to a new federal study of the marbled murrelet.

The murrelet is a relative of the puffin that nests in coastal old growth forest.

Trained observers on boats off the coast of Oregon, Washington, and California tallied the number of murrelets they saw each summer, for 10 years.

Steve Holmer is with the American Bird Conservancy.

He says during the study, the threatened seabird’s population declined by a grim 30 percent. The declines were most dramatic off the Washington coast.

“At this rate, we can expect to see it go extinct. The species is rapidly declining across most of its range.”

The study pointed to two factors likely responsible for the shrinking murrelet population, in spite of conservation efforts.

The continued shortage of old growth forests for them to nest in. And jays and crows pushing deeper into the forest and eating murrelet eggs.