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Ancient seabird bones reveal human effects on ocean food chain

May 13, 2013

Ancient seabird bones reveal human effects on ocean food chain

Once abundant, the Hawaiian petrel is now considered an endangered species.

Researchers from Michigan State University say that the bones of endangered Hawaiian petrels reveal changes in the open-ocean food chain. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, the Hawaiian petrel has a dark gray head, and tail, and a white forehead and belly. This bird has a wing span of three feet and measures 16 inches in length.

The researchers examined the bones of Hawaiian petrels – birds that spend a lot of time combing the open waters of the Pacific for their next meal. They discovered that a significant change in the birds’ eating habits, feasting on prey that are lower rather than higher in the food chain, seems to have taken place at the same time as the growth of industrialized fishing.

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