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Name: Little Diomede Island & Fairway Rock
State: US-AK
Counties: Nome
Site Status: Recognized
Site Description:
Little Diomede Island is in the Bering Strait, 4 km east of Big Diomede Island (Ostrov Ratmanova). Fairway Rock is 14 km southeast of Little Diomede Island.
Ornithological Summary:
Little Diomede is a small island with steep sides and a flat top. Most of the island's slopes consist of boulders, which provide nesting habitat for more than 400,000 Least and Crested Auklets. The auklet colony on Little Diomede is one of the Alaska's largest, owing to the island's abundant nesting habitat and its proximity to currents bearing oceanic zooplankton. More than 64,000 Black-legged Kittiwakes also breed on Little Diomede Island, and there are almost 30,000 murres (both Thick-billed and Common Murres). The Dovekie is observed regularly in small numbers and, although it has not been proven, it may breed on the island.

Fairway Rock is similar in appearance to Little Diomede but is much smaller (approximately 300 m across). It supports a colony of 35,000 seabirds, including a minimum of 25,000 auklets.

The Diomede islands are located in the middle of the American-Asian migration corridor and serve as staging areas for the entire population of King Eiders, and high percentages of Black Brant, Long-tailed Duck, Spectacled Eider, and Sandhill Crane populations, as well as a variety of shorebird species.

Conservation Issues:
Bycatch of birds in commercial fishing gear. There are no fisheries in the Bering Strait, but Little Diomede birds winter in regions of the Bering Sea that have crab and groundfish fisheries. Trawl gear catches some alcids.

Changes in prey of seabirds due to commercial fishing pressure. Alteration of the marine ecosystem by commercial fisheries. Intensive pressures may be changing the amount and availaility of seabird prey in the Bering Sea, where Little Diomede birds winter.

Increased traffic of large vessels through the Bering Strait if global warming removes ice from shipping routes in the Arctic Ocean.

Oil pollution from vessels. Vessel traffic passing St. Lawrence Island includes supplies for coastal villages and oil fields, ore freighters from a lead/zinc mine on the mainland, and tourist cruise vessels.

Global warming may already be starting to change food resources of seabirds, due to effects on marine currents and sea ice, which will change seabird prey populations and their availabliity.



National Audubon Society   2004. The Important Bird Areas Historical Results.
Available at http://www.audubon.org/bird/iba 12.2004

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