|Message from RALPH ELDRIDGE
MACHIAS-SEAL ISLAND is A unique place. Seabird colonies are beyond the experience of most people. Even those who visit the island or work here don't have the opportunity to see some of the events. This is an attempt to share some of that experience.
In spite of its name, the island isn't noted for seals. Although a few haul out here, most local Gray & Harbour Seals use a couple nearby islets.
This island does host the southern-most colony of ATLANTIC PUFFINS in the WEST ATLANTIC. It also has the major regional colony of RAZORBILLS and a growing colony of COMMON MURRES.
In addition to the ALCID SPECIES, it is the breeding home for some 200+ COMMON EIDERS, several hundred LEACHES STORM PETRELS, a few dozen SPOTTED SANDPIPERS and a few hundred SAVANNAH SPARROWS.
Until recently, the largest regional colony of ARCTIC TERNS (5500) & COMMON TERNS (2500) was here. However, the Terns began to suffer breeding failure in 2004. The possibility of recovery is unknown but it's unlikely unless there is majour human intervention.
UPDATE: A handful of Arctic Terns fledged in 2014 (perhaps only about 15).
In 2015 there was a good season: not stellar but much better than expected with a ten fold increase in successsful fledging.
2016 successful but not as good as the previous year. There was a good number of returning birds but a some poor weather and very poor food caused the chicks to struggle to survive. A lot didn't make it.
The colony is still a long way from rebuilding but with these are the first chicks to survive and fly for a decade so perhaps they have reversed their fortune.
The island is on the route of many migrating species; far enough from the mainland to minimize human disturbance; untreed, which facilitates observation; an area of just under 15 acres, which concentrates the birds.
It is also far enough from the mainland that pelagic birds, marine mammals, large sharks, bluefin tuna, and other species not usually seen from land, may be observed.
Other galleries depict my home region, the southwestern corner of New Brunswick, Canada.