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Distribution and density of marine birds and mammals along the Kenai Fjords National Park coastline - March 2010

May 31, 2011

From March 21, 2010 to March 24, 2010, a winter marine bird and mammal skiff-based survey along the coast of Kenai Fjords National Park (KEFJ) was completed. This was the second winter survey completed for KEFJ since 2008. The primary objectives of the SWAN winter surveys are to characterize the species composition, density and distribution of the overwintering marine ducks prior to their migration to breeding grounds. Seasonal differences in species composition, distribution and density of other marine birds and mammals are also documented. The overall design calls for the sampling of the same transects during both the winter and summer surveys if safe and appropriate conditions allow. The 2010 survey took approximately four days to complete with a crew of six. The most common birds observed on the nearshore transects were the Barrow’s goldeneye (29.35/km2 , SE=9.24) and harlequin duck (29.30/km2 , SE=4.72). Harlequin ducks tended to be more evenly distributed along the coastline while Barrow’s goldeneye tended to be observed in less exposed areas along the coast and in larger groups. In contrast, the most abundant marine bird in KEFJ summer surveys is the Glaucous-winged gull, while Barrow’s goldeneye are nearly absent along the KEFJ coast. The most common marine mammal was the harbor seal (6.75/km2 , se=2.93) followed by the sea otter (3.59/km2 , se=0.90, adults and pups). Densities of harbor seals and sea otters in the summer were similar to the winter estimates.

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