Posted on 14/05/2014 by Phillip Island Nature Parks
Phillip Island Nature Parks’ Shearwater Rescue Patrol reported a total of only 18 rescued fledglings in late April as the birds began their migration to the Aleutian Islands near Alaska.
Despite patrolling the whole island for a total of 68 hours, this year’s rescue patrol noted much lower shearwater numbers than in previous years. Last year’s patrol resulted in a record 683 rescued birds over the same two week period.
This year’s low numbers are thought to be the result of disrupted, delayed or abandoned egg laying following mass mortality in October and November last year as the birds migrated to Australia.
The widely reported ‘wreck’ resulted in sightings of thousands of washed up shearwaters from Mackay in Queensland around to Albany in south east Western Australia. The wreck also resulted in a decline in the presence and breeding activity of shearwaters in colonies throughout Australia. BirdLife Australia reports that the wreck is likely the result of low foraging success before and during the bird’s migration from the northern hemisphere to Australia last year.
The Nature Parks extends its thanks to the Phillip Island community for exercising caution on local roads and to those who reported information to the Nature Parks while the birds began their migration.
The Nature Parks also thanks Bass Coast Shire Council, VicRoads and SP AusNet who are long term supporters of the Shearwater Rescue Patrol program.