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Posts Tagged ‘trash’

Here on Petit Manan Island, we’ve been playing catch up after the long spell of fog that decended upon us shortly after wrapping up GOMSWG census. It’s been a little hectic, which is why this post is a little late.

The first day after the fog cleared was a beautiful day on PMI. We were finally able to get up the tower to count alcids for the first time in days. While taking a moment to admire the beauty of our island, we noticed a lot of trash marring that beauty along the western edge of the island. As a crew, we decided to walk the berm to pick it up, and upon closer inspection we realized it was almost entirely balloons…

51 balloons, to be exact.

On one small island, four people collected 51 balloons. Many of these balloons were clearly from recent high school and college graduations, but one in particular really got under my skin. We collected these balloons on the Wednesday following Father’s Day, and this balloon had hand written notes wishing the recipient “Happy Birthday and a Belated Father’s Day.” If you take a second to think about that, a “belated” Father’s Day suggests the balloon was given out after Sunday, which means that in a roughly 48 hour period, or less, that balloon made it’s way from who-knows-where, to the ocean, and to our island.

PMI is just one island out of hundreds off the coast of Maine, and it just happens to be inhabited during this time of the year. Think of all the uninhabited islands where balloons and other trash are washing up and no one is there to clean it up. Or the balloons that never make it back to land. I’m not here to tell you balloons are horrible and you are a bad person for buying some for your next celebration. I hope that by sharing the story of this one balloon, and 50 of its companions, you’ll take a moment to consider where that balloon will end up, and know that if not properly disposed of, that place may be in the stomach of a marine mammal, sea turtle, or the middle of a nesting seabird colony.

I know many of you were hoping for lots of chick pictures this week, but I couldn’t let that many balloons wash up without saying something. I promise the next post from PMI will be all about chicks. We are inundated with them, and though we don’t have guillemot chicks yet, we do have at least two very adorable, very fluffy, puffin chicks!

-Bradford

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This weekend the Ship Island crew headed over to Pond Island to take part in a beach cleanup along the shore. Morgan and I, as well as several other volunteers, collected dozens of trash bags filled with lost buoys, cans, bottles, and more. This year is the first year the group will be able to actually recycle the plastic that was collected. Through the company, TerraCycle, our collection of plastics, no matter how dirty or broken they may seem, will be sent over to be thoroughly cleaned and re-purposed. Typically, most objects made out of recycled plastic only consist of about 30% reused material. Though it doesn’t seem like a lot, or maybe even not enough, if the concentration is increased then the new object becomes closer to the end of its lifespan and can no longer be reused. It was good to get off the island and spend some time with others working to keep our environment clean, but we’re glad to be back on Ship with our terns!

 

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Section of a boat that was found washed to shore. We needed all hands on deck to carry this one over!

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Beach Cleanup Volunteers

Back home on Ship, we’ve had problems with other birds predating on our Common Terns and their eggs. Currently, Great Black-backed Gulls, Herring Gulls, American Crows, Peregrine Falcons, and Northern Harriers are our main concerns. Almost every day we spend two hour shifts in the blinds to observe the tern behavior and keep an eye out for any of these predators that might pass by. During the evening we’ve been marking nests with predation sticks so we can notice if any eggs have gone missing. By doing this we are also able to get a good idea on how many terns we really have on the island. It doesn’t look like it, but so far we have counted over 500 nests, which means we have over 1000 terns! So far so good! In a few days we will be doing a GOMSWG census which will give us an even closer estimate on our tern population size. We’re excited to share the results with you next week!

-Amanda

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Hello from Metinic! I’m Amy, and If you’re a regular reader of this blog (there must be a few of you out there!) you might remember me from last summer.  This is my third summer working on a seabird island for MCINWR, and I can’t tell you how glad I am to be back on Metinic. Joining me this year is Syd, a recent University Maine graduate, and Maine native. This is her first summer living on a seabird island. Our first task on the island has been a bit of spring cleaning. Over the winter, trash and debris have a tendency to wash up into the colony, so Syd and I have been picking up bags of trash including the ordinary (plastic bottles, aluminum cans, a lost sandal or two) and the unusual (snow shovels, cans of cheez whiz, and a section from a car dashboard).  We’ve also rounded up some buoys. IMG959995 Lots of buoys. IMG953530 Our other job for the first few days on the island was to send Metinic’s year-round wooly residents south for the summer.   The sheep of Metinic normally have the run of the entire 300+ acres of Metinic, but during the summer, they are restricted to the southern end of the island so that they don’t disrupt the colony or accidentally step on a nest. Thanks to help from Refuge staff and volunteers, we managed to herd the whole group out of the colony and down to their summer home.

Syd helps a lamb that was separated from the flock

Syd helps a lamb that was separated from the flock

Our terns seem to be appreciating their cleaner surroundings. About 300 of them have been house-hunting and checking out potential nest sites

Common Terns going house hunting

Common Terns going house hunting

Best of all, a handful of birds have really settled in: we found our first eggs yesterday!

Our first egg!

Our first egg!

The countdown to chicks has begun! In the meantime, we’ll be sure to update you on the other happenings on Metinic, so stay tuned! –          Amy

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