Seabird numbers drop alarmingly in Iceland

fulmarThe stock of common cliff-nesting seabirds in Iceland has dropped by 20 to 40 percent in the last two decades. The five most numerous species (except the puffin) were counted on bird cliffs in 2005-2008. The census was a rerun of a similar count in 1983-86.

When the results were correlated and compared, it became obvious that numbers had dropped – some seriously, reports.

The Brunnich’s guillemot count was only 56 percent of its previous total; and fulmar numbers were found to be at 69 percent their previous total. The guillemot population is at 70 percent its previous strength and there were also fewer kittiwake and razorbill.

To put the figures in context, the number of fulmars has dropped from roughly 1.3 million nesting pairs to 900,000. Guillemots pairs have gone down from 990,000 to 660,000 and Brunnich’s guillemots number 330,000 pairs; but there were 580,000 twenty years ago. The rate of reduction in numbers of individual species was different according to region.

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