Integrated Predator-Prey Survey

Black-legged Kittiwake in flight.

Black-legged Kittiwakes were the dominant species observed during recent September 2021 marine bird surveys. Photo by Tamara Zeller, USFWS.

October 14, 2021

Researchers from the Prince William Sound Science Center (PI Bishop), US Geological Survey, and NOAA recently completed a collaborative research cruise focused on marine predators and their prey in Prince William Sound. The “Integrated Predator-Prey” survey, funded by EVOSTC Gulf Watch Alaska, studies humpback whales and marine birds simultaneously with observations of forage fish and krill.

Anne Schaefer, avian research assistant at PWSSC, was responsible for conducting the marine bird surveys during the September 2021 cruise. Overall, marine bird densities were lower than the long-term average. Twenty-one bird species were recorded, with Black-legged Kittiwakes as the dominant species observed (pictured above; photo by Tamara Zeller, USFWS).

Interestingly, during the survey the researchers rescued a subadult Glaucous-winged Gull who was almost swallowed by a surface-lunging humpback whale. After warming up and drying off on deck for a couple hours, the gull was able to fly off successfully.

Glaucous-winged Gull Recovering in tote.

After almost being swallowed by a humpback whale, this gull just needed some time to dry off before a successful release. Photo by Anne Schaefer, PWSSC.