Scientists are concerned about the steady decline in seabird populations on the Murmansk Arctic coast. Ornithologists cite the deterioration of the food supply as one of the main reasons, Alexei Yezhov, a researcher at the laboratory of ornithology and parasitology of the Murmansk Marine Biological Institute (MMBI), told TASS.
"The largest bird colony on the Kola Peninsula is located on the Rybachiy Peninsula. Compared to last year, the number of kittiwakes there has decreased by 3%, small-billed guillemots - by 2%, thick-billed guillemots - by 6%. year, kittiwakes decreased by 36%, small-billed guillemots - by 76%, thick-billed guillemots - by almost 100%. a decrease in the number of fish, "- said Yezhov.
He clarified that 20 years ago, the colony of kittiwakes on the Rybachiy Peninsula numbered 50 thousand pairs, according to the data of summer studies in 2020, only 32 thousand pairs were recorded. Guillemots are not counted in pairs, but in individuals: the number of small-billed guillemots has decreased from 1,500 to 350 individuals, and the number of thick-billed guillemots has decreased from 1,300 to 92 individuals.
“This year, a very high mortality rate of chicks was also revealed in poultry colonies, this had not been observed before, almost a third of chicks died of hunger. Capelin during the second spawning period was not near the coast, the herd did not recover, there was nothing to feed the chicks. eat everything, including uncharacteristic foods with a lower energy value, up to bivalve mollusks, mussels, but the gulls' digestive system is not adapted to digest such food, "the scientist noted.
According to ornithologists' data, an extremely low level of clutch size has also been observed on the Murmansk coast for several years. "Under normal conditions, the kittiwake gull lays 2-3 eggs, now one egg is recorded in the nests, two are rarely found. Many birds build nests, but do not lay eggs. Moreover, of those chicks that hatch, many do not survive, thus, the percentage of population growth decreases even more, "Yezhov summed up.
The main food source for seabirds nesting on the Murmansk coast is capelin; its stocks in the Barents Sea also decrease from year to year. This, according to scientists, is influenced by two factors: climate change and the main anthropogenic factor. “The catch of capelin in the coastal spawning areas of the Murmansk region was so high that the herd did not have time to replenish, so a moratorium on fishing has been declared for the second year in a row. for seabirds will begin to recover and this will increase the population, "the ornithologist explained, specifying that the observation data for 2020 will be transferred to the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation.