Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

No. 117: Seabirds and seals in Southeast Greenland. Results from a survey in July 2014

Boertmann, D. & Rosing-Asvid, A. 2014. Seabirds and seals in Southeast Greenland. Results from a survey in July 2014. Aarhus University, DCE – Danish Centre for Environment and Energy, 42 pp. Scientific Report from DCE – Danish Centre for Environment and Energy No. 117
http://dce2.au.dk/pub/SR117.pdf

Summary

This report presents the results of a ship based survey of seabird breeding colonies and harbour seal habitats in Southeast Greenland between Prins Christian Sund and Tasiilaq and carried out in mid- to late July 2014. In total, 73 colony sites were visited in this region and additionally 11 sites between Nanortalik and Prins Christian Sund were surveyed.

The most frequent species was black guillemots (n = 44 colonies) and the two common gull species, glaucous gull and Iceland gull, were found in 27 and 21 colonies respectively. Common eider was located at 15 sites. Kittiwakes were only found at five sites, however additionally nine sites where the species previously have been breeding were visited.

The most remarkable sites were:

  • the small archipelago Qeertaartivit (64504) at Umiivik where a high diversity of both breeding and moulting birds were found,
  • the eastern island of Graah Øer (65506) with the highest number of black guillemots observed and in addition kittiwakes,
  • the cliff at 64508 with largest kittiwake colony seen (n = 113 Appenetly Occupied Nests, AONs).

The survey confirmed that Canada goose has expanded the breeding range to Southeast Greenland, and an increase of the population must be expected there.

Finally, two sites were visited where locals previously had observed thick-billed murres on the cliffs, without finding any murres.

Although the breeding season for seabirds was evaluated as poor (especially for common eider and Arctic tern) probably due to a delayed spring and much snow remaining on many low islands, it can be concluded that the fauna of breeding seabirds in this part of Southeast Greenland is limited; low diversity, low numbers and widely dispersed colonies.

A number of sites where harbour seals were tracked to in 2009-2011, were visited to gain knowledge of these previously unknown habitats and to survey these sites. However, besides bearded seals and ringed seals only a young of the year seal, which perhaps was a harbour seal, was observed there.