Critter News: 3 New Cassin’s Auklets at the Aquarium

A first for the Seattle Aquarium — 3 Cassin’s Auklets, a new species for our collection, recently arrived from SeaWorld Orlando and are now on exhibit with the rest of our Alcid collection.

These birds:

  • Have a chunky body shape with a big head and a short tail. They are grayish colored overall, darker above than below. A white spot above each eye is a distinctive field mark during breeding season. (Great eye appeal!)
  • Are fairly small with a weight range of 150-200g. Our new boys, identified as blue, yellow and purple based on their colored leg bands, weigh in the 170-190g.
  • Are one of the most wide spread Alcids and can be found from Alaska to Baja California.
  • Only birds from the Mexican colony that produce two broods in a single breeding season; they can be seen at nesting colonies every month of the year. Their Spanish name is: Alcuela norteamericana.
  • Sociable in all seasons, they are found feeding in flocks and nesting in large colonies. They feed far off shore and return to their colonies at night.
  • Cassin’s Auklets are the most abundant breeding seabirds (aside from Gulls) in Washington State where they make up 34% of all breeding seabirds, yet they breed on only six-to-eight islands: Mid-Bodelteh Island, East Bodelteh Island, Carroll Island, Jagged Island, Alexander Island (largest colony in Washington) and Dhuoyautzachtahl (all in Clallam and Jefferson Counties).
  • Like other Alcids, Cassin’s Auklets are vulnerable to disturbances from humans and introduced predators. Oil contamination is another potential threat to their feeding grounds at sea.
  • In the wild and here at the Aquarium they eat small fishes like silversides and sand eels but they absolutely LOVE krill.

Come and visit the new Cassin’s Auklets at the Aquarium’s Birds and Shores exhibit.

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