Published: Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 4:20 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 10:38 p.m.
Nearly 90 percent of the 63 rare least tern nests on a Volusia County beach disappeared at some point over the past week, in a demonstration of the fragile nature of nesting seabird colonies.
A week after celebrating the 63 nests, county officials returned to the colony on Disappearing Island on Wednesday and found only six nests, two of them new from the week before. They believe dogs running free in protected areas could be partly to blame.
County officials found some flightless chicks, said Jennifer Winters, the county’s coastal habitat program manager, “but the colony was pretty devastated.”
“It’s a major disappointment,” she said. “People were really interested and excited.”
It was the first time a sizable colony of least terns had been found on a Volusia beach in the last 10 years, said Alex Kropp, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist responsible for helping ensure the protected birds continue nesting along Florida beaches.