Added by Barbados Today on July 29, 2015.
ROSEAU –– A team of scientists from EPIC and Dominica’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries have recorded –– for the first time –– 968 of the diablotin, also known as the black-capped Petrel, over the mountains of Dominica, for which the last confirmed date of nesting of that species is 1862.
This rare seabird was once abundant on Dominica, but thought to be extirpated in the late 1800s due to overhunting and the introduction of mammalian species. Observations made with radar and supplemented by detection of vocalizations showed large numbers of petrels flying between the sea and potential nest areas in the island’s highest peaks. Details of the expedition are being released at the 20th International Meeting Of Birds Caribbean, taking place now in Kingston, Jamaica.
Adam Brown, co-founder and lead scientist at EPIC states: “Finding this colony of petrels on Dominica is a real game-changer for black-capped petrel conservation. For years we thought the only remaining colonies of petrels were on Hispaniola, where nesting habitat is diminishing at an alarming rate and pressures of human activity are significant.
“Dominica is an island-nation where nature conservation is a high priority and forests needed by petrels are well protected; so we now have a huge new opportunity to undertake conservation efforts to preserve this imperiled species.”
Biologists from EPIC and the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division of Dominica’s Ministry of the Environment teamed up in January to do a systematic survey of the entire island of Dominica to locate the diablotin and determine its status. The diablotin is a very difficult bird to study, as it is a seabird that comes to shore only for a few months of the year to breed, flying into forested mountains at night to underground burrows. A portable marine radar array and night vision scopes allowed biologists to locate, identify and count flying petrels in in the dark.