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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Cormorants in the Local Marine Ecosystem
Dr. Susan Elbin from The Wildlife Trust and Mr. Colin Grubel from Queens College gave a brief presentation on the population of double-crested cormorants in New York's marine waters. Chairman Wise had invited Dr. Elbin and Mr. Grubel to address the Council because many fishermen believe that the impact of these fish-eating birds on local fish stocks is large and increasing as the abundance of these birds continues to rise in local waters. Dr. Elbin and Mr. Grubel have been conducting studies of the cormorant for the last two years. They came to the meeting to share their findings and answer any questions the Council and/or audience may have.

Dr. Elbin stated that cormorants have been federally protected since the 1960?s, when the number of cormorants in many areas of the country had been seriously reduced through food chain poisoning. They have made an impressive come-back since then. Besides the large amount of fish that cormorants eat, their droppings are high in ammonia, nitrogen and phosphates causing them to be very acidic, often killing vegetation in the nesting/roosting areas.

Since the 1980?s, cormorants in the New York Harbor (the only area in New York's marine waters for which there is any quantitative information on their abundance) has increased tremendously. There are six identified nesting island for cormorants in New York Harbor and its immediate environs. One bird eats about 1 lb of fish per day. Based on diet studies of cormorant colonies in the Great Lakes, it is estimated that a single colony of cormorants can, during the breeding season, eat 1,700 tons of fish. Based solely on Christmas Census bird counts (admittedly, not the time of year when cormorant population is at its peak in New York waters), Dr. Elbin estimates that there were approximately 4,000 adult cormorants (2,000 breeding pairs) in the New York Harbor area last year. Assuming that each breeding pair produced 2 young gives a total population of 4,000 birds.

Mr. Grubel then described preliminary results of studies on the diet of local double-crested cormorants. From examination of bolus samples (regurgitation of partially digested stomach contents), cormorants in New York Harbor appear to be opportunists. They don?t specialize in any specific type of fish; they take and eat whatever fish is available. Those species that are most widely and consistently found in their diet are cunner (bergall), scup (porgy) and American eel. Neither striped bass nor winter flounder were frequently found in the bolus samples, although they were present. Mr. Grubel cautioned that coincident studies of the species composition of local fish stocks were not undertaken at the same time as the cormorant diet studies.

Commercial fisherman Mr. John Mihale stated that he believes cormorant predation on local fish stocks is having a potentially significant on these populations. He thinks this issue should be studied more closely because he doesn?t feel that fishing hatches should be seen as the sole factor affecting the abundance of local fish species.

It was agreed by all that it would be valuable to have Dr. Elbin and Mr. Grubel continue their studies. Chairman Wise suggested he would write a letter on behalf of the council to support a proposal that Dr. Elbin will be putting together to seek further funding. Dr. Elbin?s contact information is [email protected]. She would be interested in hearing from anyone who has a suggestion how the research can be expanded and improved upon.

Page last modified Tuesday, February 27, 2007 by George E. Carroll
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
It is Funny how this was printed over a year ago.The DEC Knows there is a problem with these birds, and What is being done about it?.They eat 1lb of fish per Bird, Per day.Between Jones and Debs inlet There are THOUSANDS. And every year they are spreading all over Long Island, The Letter says that A COLONY OF CORMORANTS, DURING A BREEDING SEASON CAN EAT 1,700 TONS, YES TONS OF FISH. And once again What is being Done About This
 

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Right on the Money Cowkiller !

These birds have DEVASTATED our inshore fish stocks ! No inshore Flounder? There are tens of thousands of postage sized flounder in every harbor every year , were do they end up, No, NOT IN THE DRAGGERS NET! They end up in the belly of the BIRD !Same goes for your Blackfish, Bergall,Scup ,Sundial,etc,etc. Reduce the BIRD and the inshore fishery will rebound ! Cowkiller , good to see someone thinking on this website.Cheers , the Claw .

This post edited by claw1 10:42 PM 02/06/2008
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you Claw 1, I saw you were posting about this same problem.The BIRD, Ya its bad for all of us.But Still I ask, What are our friends at the DEC doing about this?
 

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Noreast cormorant hunt, whose in?

I bet no one on this site has more of a hatred of these flying rats as I do. All they do is eat fish and sh*t. Im sick of looking at these birds and watching them chase small fish to fill there seemingly endless appetite. Everywhere around City Island I see these destructive birds perched and looking for their next meal on pilings and small outcroppings of rocks. There should be a bounty on these birds heads!!! Claw and Cowkiller you guys are right. THEY ARE A PROBLEM that needs to be addressed immediately.
As a bio major, I have taken many bio related classes including ecology. In this class we learned about various invasive species, including the Asian shore crab. The cormorants are a stereotypical invasive species, as they flourish native organisms suffer; they are unnatural predators plain and simple. It is time something is done about these miserable creatures!
 

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You should have pictures to show the amount of these 'wild' birds that build up around certain south shore areas dining on our flounders and any other small fish they can get ahold of. Multi thousands of these birds at a number of locations, acting as extremely effective vacuum cleaners of our local bays.

Long Live the Cormorant the greenies would say....yes you might enjoy looking at these birds along the shoreline, while you have barely any living fish in the waters in which you find these destructive beasts.

Now if these beasts were effecting the planes like out near JFK, they would be systematically taking care of the problem (shooting them). But since they are just doing what cormorants do, thats eating every fish they can get ahold of, this problem will continue to exacerbate.

Here it is, and no one truly understands what these pests, and thats what they are, doing to our inshore bays and waters. Again one of those things that the government will step in when its too late to do something about!

EC NEWELL MAN<>
 

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Another Vioce in the wilderness .

EC, Benny ,another couple of guys willing to think outside the box .Good to see some common sense on these boards.
No you cannot SHOOT the bird ,its protected and you will go to jail.
Geese eggs get oiled because they crap on peoples lawns , we gotta train those Commorants to crap on those lawns too !
 

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Joe, I see these birds everyday where I live and they no doubt they are eating machines. I see them working close up and I've seen them come up with suprisingly large herring, flounder/fluke. I sometimes see juvenille sea bass, tog and cunners in my crab traps and you can bet they are chowing down on those juvy fish too - you just dont see that as those fish are like popcorn to the cormorants. Just take a ride down the channel and you will see almost every pole will have one resting up before the next dive. These are amazing birds but their population is definately out of control. They are putting a hurting on the juvy fish in our bays. I have acutally seem them hanging around and diving on shallow wrecks in the ocean-I wonder how they know where the wrecks are?
Rick
 

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I am probably the lone voice on this front, but the huge number of resident geese picking marine life out of the mud in the tide flats can not be good for the flounders either. Years ago there were only a few resident geese around these parts.
 

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One fall morning,(not this vid) I estimated 1,000+ cormorants floating in with the tide.my bird video
Wanna come by my house and watch the birds ??


Hey Ricky you know to follow the birds, the'll put you on the meat
 

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BennyV wrote:
In this class we learned about various invasive species, including the Asian shore crab. The cormorants are a stereotypical invasive species, as they flourish native organisms suffer; they are unnatural predators plain and simple. It is time something is done about these miserable creatures!

The birds are not "invasive species" they are native to our area. Upstate around the great lakes the NY DEC is addling their eggs, but it is against federal law to harm the birds.
 

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And anyone in Massachusetts thinking of using herring for bait this spring...big no no. But look at the mouth of any herring stream and it'll be peppered with nothing but cormorants. It's absurd. In Buzzards Bay, I didn't see a cormorant until the early 80's. We used to have an amazing flounder fishery in all of the little bays all along Buzzards Bay. Nice shallow, muddy, grassy bays. Now, in the fall, you see thousands of birds working an area before they move on. It's amazing. Same thing in Quincy harbor. Remember Quincy harbor? The rusty signs are still on the streets "flounder capital of the world". Now, while smelt fishing in the fall, you can't get a line past the cormorants and you see giant flocks of them cruising around eating tons of fish....

1 pound of fish/day...Not bad if it's 4 bergall, but when you think that it's more likely 20+ baby flounder...Times 1,000+ birds... Why should they be protected? Make it a business and find a market for them. Or just a sport. Or just go out and purse-seine them a flock at a time---they take 200' of flying to get off of the water--you could zip a boat around a flock no problem.
 

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It takes them 72 hours to shut down a fishery.

But when there's a problem with over population that hurts the environment it takes them 5 years to do something about it. "LIKE SEALS, Cormorants. And the over protected Spiny Dogfish. Every dive they seem to bring up a 3 inch flounder. That can't be helping the bays flounder population.

This post edited by AUDREYMAE 09:34 AM 02/07/2008
 

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Anybody write yet?

Maybe it's time to collectively write OR do we wait to hear the findings from the research? I remember watching one work the shallows for small flounder when I was a kid back in the 80's. After coming up every 30 seconds with a flounder I started tossing rocks at it everytime it popped it head up. Someone came charging down at me telling me it was a protected species. I asked them who's protecting my future flounder! They called security on me. Man I hate that bird. I hope they do some research June-August and check the stomach contents when there loaded with flounder.
 
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