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Overfishing, Climate Change Push Mexican Seabirds North

Cara J

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Climate change and overfishing is pushing a colony of seabirds from their native Mexican nesting grounds into California. “The problem for the elegant terns is not only the temperature anomalies but also the overfishing of sardines” said Enriqueta Velarde, an ecologist at the University of Veracruz in Mexico and the lead author of a study recently published in Science Advances. A sardine fishing boat in the Gulf of California´s Midriff Island Region hauls the purse-seine net after a fishing operation in 2013, when their catch of Pacific sardine had nearly collapsed due to overfishing. Image Credit: E. Velarde Velarde has been studying elegant terns (Thalasseus elegans) since 1979 when she first came to the island of Isla Rasa in the Gulf of California, which usually hosts about 95 percent of the population of the migratory birds. Back then, there were 15,000 nests but the Mexican government had given that island and others in the Gulf protected status a few years earlier. Populations increased, further helped by the 1995 eradication of a rat population that had been introduced in the late 19th century. “The rats were feeding on the seabirds’ eggs and little chicks,” Velarde said. By around 2008 the island [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/overfishing-climate-change-push-mexican-seabirds-north/

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