Group hopes to bring back namesake bird in Gannet Rock, N.S.
A gannet flies over its nesting grounds Wednesday, July 25, 2012 on the Bonaventure Island in Perce, Que. (Jacques Boissinot / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, May 15, 2016 5:30PM EDT
HALIFAX -- The Nova Scotia Nature Trust is hoping to bring gannet back to a small Bay of Fundy island named for the seabird.
The conservation organization says it has added Gannet Rock to the network of bird habitats it protects after purchasing it for less than $1000 at a tax sale.
"This one actually was a little bit unusual in that it was the local people who've been really passionate about the birds," executive director Bonnie Sutherland said in a phone interview Sunday.
"Volunteers have been really trying hard to bring back the gannet... I think they have renewed hope."
Gannet Rock is a remote island off the southern tip of Nova Scotia, roughly 20 kilometres south of Yarmouth.
Sutherland says that while the barren island may not seem like an ecological gem, it is a critical stop for migrating birds along the Atlantic coast.
Earlier this month, the Nature Trust teamed up with the Nova Scotia Bird Society to ensure the nearby Bald Islands are protected.
Sutherland says the organization plans to use the land to research migration patterns, protect nesting habitats and restore historic populations, such as the Northern Gannet.
"There are so few opportunities for these birds," Sutherland said. "All through their range, they're facing increasing threats."
Until the 1880s, Gannet Rock was a breeding site for the white birds with spear-like bills and spiky tails, with as many as 150 nests on its cliffs.
But the gannets were decimated after their eggs were collected for food.
The Nature Trust is now hoping to entice gannets to nest once again on the island, which is also frequented by birds such as black guillemots, Artic tern, common eider, great cormorants and the American black duck.
Seabird populations are in rapid decline, Sutherland says, but she maintains hope they will be restored.
She says it's wonderful that Nova Scotians are starting to take action themselves.
"With all these islands ... it's passionate birders who stepped forward and said, 'Here's a real opportunity'," she said.