Volume 46, No. 1

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Seabirds in the Gulf of Fonseca, Pacific Central America, during El Niño 2015/16




VAN DORT, J. 2018. Seabirds in the Gulf of Fonseca, Pacific Central America, during El Niño 2015/16. Marine Ornithology 46: 71 - 77

Received 8 December 2017, accepted 28 December 2017

Date Published: 2018/4/15
Date Online: 2018/3/12
Key words: ENSO, Honduras, Oceanodroma microsoma, Hydrobatidae, molt, storm petrel


Until recently, several seabird species in the orders Procellariiformes, Charadriiformes, and Suliformes were considered rare or unknown from the Gulf of Fonseca, a tropical bay on the Pacific coast of northern Central America. The gulf’s shallow waters were not expected to harbor open ocean species, but, in 2015 and early 2016, I found some of these species to be relatively common in the Gulf. This communication summarizes the results of opportunistic observations in the Gulf of Fonseca between May 2015 and October 2016, overlapping with one of the strongest El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) periods on record. Visits late in the study period, when the ENSO phenomenon was waning, failed to record some of these species, indicating that their presence in the Gulf of Fonseca is not annual, but rather ENSO-related. Statistical support for this hypothesis was found for Least Storm Petrel Oceanodroma microsoma. This note includes information on observed wing molt in two species of storm petrel.


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