GoMAMN Newsletter #3


GoMAMN Newsletter: Issue 3

Greetings from the GoMAMN Coordination Committee! This is the third issue of the GoMAMN newsletter, which is distributed on a quarterly basis. The purpose of this newsletter is to share information about the Network and ongoing monitoring projects, along with news and opportunities relevant to our work as we collectively strive to advance bird conservation along the Gulf of Mexico.


Team Member Spotlight: Patrick Jodice

Pat is currently the Leader of the USGS South Carolina Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit and a Professor at Clemson University. Pat worked with loons, fox squirrels, and Marbled Murrelets during his graduate studies, but his current research focuses on the conservation and ecology of marine birds. For GoMAMN, Pat is the Seabird Taxa Lead and has worked with other GoMAMN members to complete the Seabird Monitoring Chapter and the Avian Health Monitoring Chapter for the Gulf of Mexico Avian Monitoring Network Strategic Monitoring Plan (in prep). His lab is also part of the GoMMAPPS team, working primarily with the vessel-based surveys for seabirds (see Monitoring Project Highlight below). Pat currently serves as the Chair of the World Seabird Union (2015-2020), a global organization of scientific and conservation organizations focused on seabird conservation and science. Pat is also active in the Pacific Seabird Group(former Chair), Atlantic Marine Bird Cooperative (founding member), and The Waterbird Society.

In this interview, Pat provided us with details on his background, his research interests, and his perspective on the future of avian monitoring in the Gulf. We also learned that Pat is a Jersey guy (but not from the Shore), is interested in mountain biking, paddle sports, and climbing, and loves dogs.

Read the full interview here.


Monitoring Project Highlight: Gulf of Mexico Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species

by Jeff Gleason

The Gulf of Mexico Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species (GoMMAPPS) project is funded by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to provide information on species composition, distribution, and abundance of seabirds, marine mammals, and sea turtles using the near- and offshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This information will then be used to inform regulatory decision-making related to offshore energy development. From April 2017-October 2018, the seabird vessel survey group conducted approximately 165 days of surveys on 13 NOAA cruises, sometimes spending 14 hours in one day observing seabirds! They have so far amassed a huge dataset of ~5,700 detections of 36 seabird species totaling ~25,000 seabirds. Several marine mammals were also detected including: sperm whale, false killer whale, Risso’s dolphin, pantropical spotted dolphin, striped dolphin, Atlantic spotted dolphin, and Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, as well as likely Kogia (pygmy or dwarf sperm whale) and/or Mesoplodon (beaked whale).

Preliminary results suggest a significant number of the continent’s black terns (Chlidonias niger) use the Mississippi River Delta as staging, migratory, and non-breeding habitat for up to eight months of the year. The brown booby (Sula leucogaster), commonly associated with tropical coastal environments, has been found to be widespread in pelagic Gulf waters, even more so than the regionally-breeding masked booby (Sula dactylatra). Finally, GoMMAPPS has regularly detected the black-capped petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) using the offshore Gulf, a finding most notable for the fact that this species is currently proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act. These novel insights into the distributions and habitat use of seabirds in the Gulf of Mexico provide an important ecological context for current and future offshore oil and gas activities, current and future restoration efforts, future oil spills, and other future activities (i.e., offshore wind energy, aquaculture, etc.).

Read more here.


Paper Highlight: “A Catalog of Louisiana’s Nesting Seabird Colonies”

by W.R. Fontenot, S.W. Cardiff, R.A. DeMay, D.L. Dittmann, S. Hartley, C.W. Jeske, T.C. Michot, R.D. Purrington, M. Seymour, and W.G. Vermillion

Take-Home Messages by Bill Vermillion:

• The objective of the publication was to compile information for coastal Louisiana seabird nesting colonies from a range of published and unpublished sources dating from the mid-1970s to the 2000s.

• Data provided for each colony includes location (coordinates and maps) and species composition and abundance, by year.

• Authors intended to provide information to guide future surveys and highlight both the importance of Louisiana to populations of colonial nesting seabirds as well as the threats facing the birds and their nesting habitats.

W.R. Fontenot, S.W. Cardiff, R.A. DeMay, D.L. Dittmann, S. Hartley, C.W. Jeske, T.C. Michot, R.D. Purrington, M. Seymour, and W.G. Vermillion. 2012. A Catalog of Louisiana’s Nesting Seabird Colonies. Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, Thibodaux, LA. Report Number 34.

Read the full paper here.



Queen Bess Island Restoration
Queen Bess Island, located in LA, is an important bird rookery for brown pelicans, terns, and black skimmers, but it has been shrinking due to subsidence and sea level rise. With money from the Deepwater Horizon settlement, there are plans to increase the amount of bird nesting habitat on the Island.

Video: http://player.pbs.org/viralplayer/3014799804/?autoplay=false&endscreen=false&topbar=false&start=891&end=1293

Gulf sturgeon, loons and terns could share $16 million in BP spill money
Nearly $16 million in BP oil spill natural resource restoration money should be used to restore habitat for common loons in Minnesota and black terns in North and South Dakota and to study the threatened Gulf sturgeon in the Pearl and Pascagoula river systems, say federal trustees reviewing how to repair damage to Gulf waters caused by the spill.

Audubon LA Coastal stewardship summer update



72nd Southeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Annual Conference
October 21-24, 2018 in Mobile, AL

Mississippi Restoration Summit
November 13, 2018 in Biloxi, MS

Alabama-Mississippi Bays and Bayous Symposium
November 28-29, 2018 in Mobile, AL

9th National Summit on Coastal and Estuarine Restoration and Management
December 8-13, 2018 in Long Beach, CA

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference
February 4-7, 2019 in New Orleans, LA



The Conservation Alliance Grants
Program seeks to protect threatened wild places throughout North America for their habitat and recreational values. The deadline for nomination is November 1, 2018.

Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act Grants
Support projects that promote the conservation of neotropical migratory birds & their habitats in the US, Canada, Latin America & Caribbean. Deadline November 6.


Did you know?

Many birds, such as starlings, sing notes too high for humans to hear.

A pelican’s pouch-like beak can hold up to 2.5 gallons of water at a time. The beak will shrink to squeeze out the water before the pelican swallows its food.


For more information contact Ben WilsonRandy Wilson, or Kate Spear