Bird Conservation International



The status of seabird colonies on the Cook Islands atoll of Suwarrow


Rhys J. Jones  a1c1
a1 AgResearch Ltd, Private Bag 3123, Hamilton, New Zealand.

Abstract

Suwarrow (Suvorov) atoll is an important seabird breeding site in the central Pacific Ocean. However, it is not protected and is attractive to developers of potentially damaging aquaculture industries. In this paper I report the results of a survey conducted to establish the present status of Suwarrow's seabird colonies and to generate base-line data for measuring the effect of a proposed pearl-farm development. Between late July and early September 2000 the reef islets were surveyed for seabird chick numbers and age-states using a simple sampling method. In addition to Sooty Tern Sterna fuscata, populations of boobies Sula spp., noddies Anous spp., frigatebirds Fregata spp. and tropicbirds Phaethon spp. were assessed. Results showed that bird populations were maintaining levels similar to those from findings of surveys in 1992. Of particular note were globally significant numbers of Lesser Frigatebird Fregata ariel and Red-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon rubricauda. Migratory birds were observed with Bristle-thighed Curlew Numenius tahitiensis regularly seen. The well-being of bird-life on the islets appears to be indirectly proportional to the proximity of human activity, with birds not observed breeding on Anchorage Island – the islet most often visited by people.

(Received April 4 2001)
(Accepted August 8 2001)


Correspondence:
c1 Correspondence to: PO Box 12275, Chartwell, Hamilton, New Zealand.