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One of the World’s Rarest Seabirds Re-discover in Dominica
International, 8/9/2015

A team of scientists from EPIC and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of Dominica have registered for the first time the Diablotin (Pterodromahasitata), also known as the Black-capped Petrel, on the mountains of Dominica.

The last confirmed nesting of this species was dated in 1862.

This rare seabird that was once abundant in Dominica is thought to have been wiped out in the late 1800s due to excessive hunting and the introduction of species of mammals.

Observations with radar, and complemented by the detection of vocalizations, showed a large number of petrels flying between the sea and the potential areas of nests in the highest peaks of the island.

Adam Brown, co-founder and chief scientist at EPIC, states that "finding this petrel colony of Dominica is a true game-changer for the conservation of the Black Petrel. For years we thought that the remaining colonies of petrels were in Hispaniola, where nesting habitat is decreasing at an alarming rate and pressure of human activity is significant. Dominica is an island where nature conservation is a high priority, and petrels that need the forests are well protected. So now we have a new opportunity to carry out conservation efforts to preserve this endangered species. "

Biologists Division of the Ministry of Environment of Dominica, Forestry and Wildlife joined in January 2015 to make a systematic study of the whole island of Dominica, where the Diablotin locates to determine its status.

The Diablotin is a bird very difficult to study because it is a sea bird that comes to shore for only a few months of the year to reproduce, and flies to the forested mountains at night to hide in underground burrows. A portable marine radar and night vision enabled biologists to locate, identify and count petrels flying in the dark. This technique was developed and used successfully to study the Diablotin in Hispaniola.

The next step is to confirm the offspring, by locating active nests. The team is confident that Dominica’s spotted petrels are reproducing and the discovery of bird eggs or offspring hidden in burrows will confirm this suspicion. In early 2016 biologists will make expeditions to the mountains, when the offspring of petrels are expected to return to Dominica.

The Diablotin is considered one of the world’s rarest seabirds, with only an estimated 1,000-2,000 pairs remaining, and until recently only known nesting on the island of Hispaniola (which includes Haiti and Dominican Republic).


Topic(s):    Biodiversity