Ducks Unlimited Studying Sea Duck Decline

The curious thing about sea ducks is that there are 15 different kinds—constituting 42-percent of all North American species—and yet we know so little about them. Their habitat, in particular their breeding areas, do not lend themselves to study. And, for similar reasons, their population estimates are not considered as accurate, nor are they available across as large a breadth of years as those of divers and dabblers. Perhaps the limited opportunities to hunt them also plays a role in the lack of research. Far more hunters have access to good mallard hunting, for instance, and hunters' dollars drive a vast amount (if not the majority) of waterfowl research.

However, we could be on the cusp of greatly improving our knowledge of sea duck behavior, habitat needs and why certain species appear to be in decline. New research by Ducks Unlimited seeks to "unravel the sea duck mystery."

From the news release:

The study calls for a total 300 sea ducks along the Atlantic coast to be captured and implanted with satellite transmitters. So far, 67 black scoters received transmitters from 2009 through 2010 in New Brunswick at Baie des Chaleurs and the Restigouche River; 52 long-tailed ducks received transmitters from 2007 through 2010 in Nantucket Sound, Cape Cod and Chesapeake Bay; and 19 molting white-winged scoters received transmitters in 2010 in the St. Lawrence Estuary. Ducks Unlimited's participation in this important research was made possible by a generous grant from the Waterfowl Research Foundation.

The results are sure to be fascinating and, hopefully, will help DU help the ducks. Let me know if you spot any ducks fitted with transmitters—can you imagine what a taxidermy specimen that would make?

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