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MassWildlife has compiled preliminary figures for nesting laughing gulls, skimmers and terns with data gathered through the cooperation of nearly seventy biologists and beach managers from state and federal agencies, private conservation groups and local municipalities.

Two major “events” occurred in the tern world this year. The first was the April 27 Bouchard Barge No. 120 oil spill in Buzzards Bay resulted in an aggressive tern management response: terns were hazed at badly oiled Ram Island through most of May while clean-up was occurring. The second event was a welcome surprise; the discovery of a new colony site, on a small island off Monomoy Island, Chatham which hosted large numbers of common terns, as well as several other nesting coastal waterbird species, including the endangered roseate tern. Common terns numbers climbed to 16,087 pairs, a modern high, up 17% from 2002. Roseate terns also increased 17%, totaling 1,715 pairs this year. This brought numbers back to 2001 levels, after a 14% drop in 2002.

Least tern numbers continued a downward slide to 2,562 pairs (an 8% drop), compared to a recent high of 3,420 in 2001. Arctic terns remain rare in Massachusetts with five pairs nesting at three sites this year, the same number of pairs which nested last year. Arctic terns remain rare in Massachusetts. Five pairs nested at three sites this year.

After a year’s absence, Black skimmers once again nested in the state. Seven pairs were found. Laughing gulls again were found at just one nesting site: South Monomoy Island hosting 1,200 pairs, an 8% increase over 2002.

For more information, contact Carolyn Mostello at 508/792-7270 x312


Agency and Program Public Information Contacts:

Division of Fisheries and Wildlife topics, contact MassWildlife at  
Division of Law Enforcement topics, contact Andy Petrie at
Division of Marine Fisheries topics, contact Dan McKiernan at
Riverways Program topics, contact Russ Cohen at
DFWELE GIS Program topics, contact Steve McRae at


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