Brown pelicans back after Irma

LITTLE BAY–The country’s national symbol – the brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) – is personifying the post-Hurricane Irma tagline “St. Maarten Strong.” A number of breeding pairs are re-establishing their nests below Fort Amsterdam.

Nature Foundation has recorded the re-establishment of breeding colonies after a check of the site a week after Irma revealed that the some 40 breeding pairs were absent.
“We were very disappointed to note that the complete breeding site had been decimated, especially since we have been monitoring that area since 2010. Last week, we returned to the site and to our surprise we found that the majority of breeding pairs had re-established themselves, with numerous nests being laid and eggs being brooded,” said Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets.
The brown pelican is a key indicator species for the health of the marine environment.
“After the storms, we encountered numerous pelicans that sustained serious injury, many of which had their necks broken. We also lost about two-dozen nests at the site, so you can imagine how happy we were to see that the colony re-established itself, with numerous nests already being brooded,” said Bervoets.
The Foundation will continue to monitor the breeding sites and will conduct its annual pelican survey. The Divi Little Bay Breeding Colony has been monitored since 2010 as a part of its Pelican Monitoring Programme.

Source: The Daily Herald