Colonies of Northern Fulmars and Black-legged Kittiwakes Associated with the Northeast Water Polynya, Northeast Greenland

  • Knud Falk
  • Søren Møller
Keywords: Animal distribution, Animal population, Bird nesting, Fulmars, Glaucous Gulls, Kittiwakes, Polynyas, Greenland Sea, Nordostrundingen, Greenland, Northeast Water Polynya


The first census of cliff-nesting seabirds dependent on the resources of the Northeast Water polynya was carried out in 1993. We made direct counts in six known colonies of the northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) and used a combination of direct and photo counts in one colony of black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla). Glaucous gulls (Larus hyperboreus) occurring at these colonies were also surveyed. A total of 1887 apparently occupied fulmar sites were counted, and a subjective attempt to correct for missed sites gave a total of 2550 apparently occupied sites, in which an estimated 1475 pairs laid eggs. The cliffs at Mallemukfjeld and a neighbouring unnamed cliff held 80% of the fulmar sites. Kittiwakes nested only at Mallemukfjeld, which held 873 apparently occupied sites in which an estimated 733 pairs initiated laying. The minimum glaucous gull population present in the six fulmar colonies was estimated at 22 occupied sites. The fulmar and kittiwake colonies at the Northeast Water polynya were larger than previously assumed. We present estimates based on daily variation in colony attendance of the effort required to detect annual differences in population size. There is now a basis for evaluating any future population changes in some of the most extreme high-arctic seabird populations.

Key words: northern fulmar, Fulmarus glacialis, black-legged kittiwake, Rissa tridactyla, seabirds, population monitoring, polynya, high Arctic, Greenland