Seabirds during Arctic Polar Night: underwater observations from Svalbard archipelago, Norway
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionWaterbirds (De Leon Springs, Fla.). 2017, 40 (3), 302-308. 10.1675/063.040.0301
Visually-oriented predators, such as seabirds, are highly light dependent, and thus their presence and activity under continuously dark conditions of Arctic polar night pose a number of questions about the strategies and mechanisms they use to find prey. Here, opportunistic observations of the behaviors of Thick-billed Murres (Uria lomvia; n = 4) and juvenile Black Guillemots (Cepphus grylle; n = 5) were made in the ocean around Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard Archipelago, off the coast of Norway. These observations were made between 15–23 January 2014–2017 during the darkest period of the polar night. Underwater observations recorded on 23 January 2014 and 19–20 January 2015 revealed that individual birds seemed to be attracted to artificial light. They actively foraged in the sea within the beam of scuba diver lights and harbor lamps indicating that artificial light may create additional feeding opportunities for seabirds present in the area. Other observations of Dovekies (Alle alle; n = 2) made on 15–16 January 2016 may indicate that not all seabird species exhibit such an adaptable behavior. Various seabird reactions might be caused also by different age and intra-specific variation among individuals; however, due to the limited number of observations, future studies are needed to increase our understanding of these behaviors.