Monday August 21, 2023


As a heat wave made its way through Newfoundland and Labrador earlier this summer, ocean temperatures also rose — but what does that mean for the province’s seabird population? 

Memorial University seabird biologist Bill Montevecchi said the impact of the heat is enormous.

“It’s absolutely huge,” he said. “Even thinking about the avian flu last year we had massive die-offs of birds, tens of thousands of birds just in Newfoundland died last year.” And that heat could have contributed to the high mortality rate of infected birds, he said.

Montevecchi said the heat is particularly tough for seabirds because they sit in cliffs, exposed to solar radiation, and the heat can also be harmful to seabird eggs. 

At the beginning of August, he said, most seabird eggs would have hatched, but there are still some that haven’t, and there are some nestlings — birds too young to leave the nest. 

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