Peard Bay Special Area

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View of Peard Bay from the decommissioned Distant-Early-Warning (DEW) Line Site.

Peard Bay, on the Chukchi Sea Coast, is the newest BLM-designated Special Area within the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska. This area is relatively unknown to scientists, but well known to nearby residents who have used the area for millennia. Located between the villages of Barrow and Wainwright, the bay is sheltered by barrier islands and hosts high densities of polar bears and ringed seals, nesting eiders, and in the fall, migrating waterfowl and shorebirds.

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En route to the Seahorse Islands to search for nesting common eiders.

As at Kasegaluk Lagoon, where we are currently studying eider nesting success, we are concerned with the inundation of eider nests and increased predation in this rapidly changing environment. However, we must first fully understand where on the barrier islands the eiders are nesting. WCS personnel recently spent time at Peard Bay searching for nesting eider ducks. On the Seahorse Islands we found a colony of at least 50 common eider nests, some nesting so close together that the nests were touching each other. Other interesting observations included a northern fulmar, a small group of crested auklets, and a nesting red-throated loon.

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This eider made its nest amongst the flotsam washed up by the tide. Eiders were nesting as few as 20 m from the water’s edge.

 

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Red-throated loon nest found on a small lake slightly inland at Peard Bay.

Written by Sally Andersen, WCS Conservation Coordinator. June 2016.

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