Posted: Friday, May 11, 2001

Seabird population declining in Alaska

ANCHORAGE - The Center for Biological Diversity said Thursday an Alaska seabird is declining.

The center is petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to add the Kittlitz's murrelet to the list of federally endangered species.

The petition cites climate change, oil spills, vessel traffic and other factors for the reason for the listing.

The Kittlitz's murrelet is a small diving seabird. It is sometimes called the glacier murrelet because in the summer it forages almost exclusively at the face of tidewater glaciers or near the outflow of glacier streams. It nests in alpine areas in bare patches amid the ice and snow. The close association the bird has with glaciers is unique among seabirds, according to the diversity center.

Kassie Siegel with the center said global warming poses the greatest threat to the continued survival of the birds.

In the 1970s there were several hundred thousand of them in the Gulf of Alaska alone. Now scientists say the worldwide population likely numbers only about 10,000.

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