Grebe Tracking Study
Western grebes are in serious decline in Washington State and are one of the species most impacted by oil spills in California.
Evaluation of post-oil spill rehabilitation and survival of grebes has been prevented by lack of suitable tracking capability. Subcutaneous VHF transmitters tear out shortly after implantation and early pilot studies implanting intracoelomic transmitters resulted in 100% failure.
A 2007 study by the Oiled Wildlife Care Network and the SeaDoc Society developed an intracoelomic surgical procedure that resulted in 86% survival of Western grebes. This field study will determine how long and how well Western grebes implanted with transmitters will survive after release. 10 healthy birds have been implanted with intracoelomic satellite transmitters using the new technique and movement and survival are being monitored post-release.
This should provide California’s oiled wildlife responders with a technique for capturing Western grebes on water and will provide significant advances for monitoring post rehabilitation survival of rehabilitated oiled birds. Also this new technology will permit biologists to study Western Grebe migration and for the first time, to be able to link winter foraging areas on the marine water with summer nesting location on freshwater lakes.
For photos, video, and more information about the study, use the links below.