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Narrowing the Focus of the Wellfleet Bay Virus Investigation: Annual Movement Patterns of Satellite-marked Common Eiders Breeding in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts
Lucas Savoy, Biodiversity Research Institute, Portland, Maine
Between 1998 and 2015, 14 recognized mortality events occurred in Common Eiders (Somateria mollissima) along the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The numbers of eiders involved in each outbreak ranged from 30 to 2,800 individuals, with estimated total losses exceeding 7,000 birds. In 2010, a novel orthomyxovirus named Welleet Bay Virus ( WFBV ) was isolated from tissues of four of these birds.
In 2012, biologists along the North Atlantic coast visited several Common Eider nesting colonies to collect blood samples to screen for the presence of antibodies to WFBV. The presence of these antibodies would indicate whether birds had been exposed to the virus. Eiders nesting in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Maine and Massachusetts were sampled, as were wintering eiders in Rhode Island. Overall, 6% of eiders from Nova Scotia, 0% from Maine, and 4% from Rhode Island had antibodies to WFBV. The largest percentage of eiders with WFBV antibodies (41%) occurred in Massachusetts, and most of these birds (96%) were located on one nesting island in Boston Harbor.
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