Winged wonder abounds on Southeast's remoteSt. Lazaria Island

Posted: Sunday, September 02, 2007

Facing the open ocean on the far edge of Sitka Sound, St. Lazaria Island is a seabird magnet that is rarely visited by humans or other mammals due to its foreboding topography.

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The lack of predators makes it an ideal nesting grounds for fork-tail and Leach's storm-petrels, tufted puffins, rhinoceros auklets, glaucous-winged gulls and pelagic cormorants, to name some of the species that raise chicks there.

Leslie Slater, a wildlife biologist for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has studied nine different sea bird species on the island over the past 14 years. She and other biologists and volunteers research the abundant birds.

Perennial monitoring of population trends, productivity patterns and diet samples may yield significant insights, Slater said. For example, when a seabird species begins to lay its eggs earlier and earlier over an extended period of time, it may be an indicator of climate change.

Juneau Empire Photographer Suzy Lafferty spent time on the island this summer to chronicle the wildlife and the research...

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