This month, the most abundant species in our care is the Northern Fulmar. Our San Francisco Bay center is currently caring for 17 of these birds. Though this species is normally far out at sea, these birds were found unable to fly along the coastline in San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Monterey. You can see some of these birds live on our BirdCam.
Upon intake, they were all found to be emaciated, anemic and dehydrated. We are currently looking into potential causes for their condition.
A member of the family Procellariidae that includes albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters, the Northern Fulmar has a distinctive tubenose structure on the top of its bill that helps remove salt from its system via a saline solution that passes through the nostril.
In recent years, fulmars have been studied as a biomonitor for measuring marine plastic debris, in part because they feed exclusively at sea. One study in 2012 found a staggering 92.5% of the fulmars examined had plastic in their stomachs — detritus from fishing line and Styrofoam to bottle caps and shards of indeterminate origin.