Several conservation agencies use the data collected in this long-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations, but Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary takes it one step further. Since birds are easier to observe and count than the food they eat, the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) can provide a snapshot but comparable view of fish populations that live deep below the ocean’s surface. While most surveys are on land, the sanctuary and the Stellwagen Sanctuary Seabird Stewards completed surveys at sea aboard the sanctuary's R/V Auk. The December 2016 survey results included three times the number of common murres and four times the number of razorbills compared to last year’s CBC, but did not observe northern fulmars or shearwaters, both species that were observed in 2015. The Stellwagen Bank CBC covers a 15-mile circle that includes the southern end of the Bank and a portion of the northern tip of Cape Cod.
Original article: Sanctuary Participates in 117th Annual Christmas Bird Count