I’m not always looking down into the water, though. The skies above Newfoundland are filled with seabirds. Seabirds form colonies of thousands of birds. Parents first raise their chicks on land. When the young birds can fly, they all fly together to the ocean.
The best-known birds on the island are Atlantic puffins. It’s hard not to notice their bright orange-red bills and feet. Puffins use them to dig underground burrows in the grassy areas of Gull Island. There, protected from predators, puffin parents raise a single chick.
These potato-shaped birds are strong fliers and excellent swimmers. They take to the sky and dive downward, straight into the water. Then they resurface with beaks full of fish.
Puffins are a familiar sight on Gull island.
Northern gannets are strong flyers that nest on the sides of cliffs.
Newfoundland has another winged visitor. It’s called the northern gannet. They are bigger than puffins and shaped like an airplane. Their body is designed to stay airborne. They just hold out their wings and glide with the wind. They are hard to miss! The special markings around their blue eyes make them look like they are wearing makeup.
I’ve traveled to a place called Cape St. Mary’s to see these fancy birds. You must travel on long dirt roads. Then you hike down a long, steep trail toward the ocean. At the end of the trail, there’s a cliff with a 91-meter (300-foot) drop. Just on the other side, there are thousands of gannets nesting in the open. It’s spectacular!
Moose often munch on native plants.
Newfoundland also has its share of moose. They didn’t come from here, however. People introduced these animals to the island more than a hundred years ago.
Moose quickly adapted to this environment. Thousands live in the forests and wetlands. They graze on grasses and other plants. As they munch on all the native plants, they change the plant ecosystem. It’s something we need to pay attention to.
The Full Picture
Why is it important for a marine biologist to pay attention to land and sky creatures? Newfoundland has taught me about the connections between sea, sky, and land. I’ve learned that all of the living things in an ecosystem rely on each other. For the birds in the sky to thrive, they need the fish in the ocean. For land animals to prosper, they need plants and other animals to eat.
As a scientist, it’s important for me to observe all aspects of an ecosystem. You can observe the ecosystem around you, too. By thinking critically about our world, we can start to see how everything fits together.
Newfoundland’s sea, sky, and land are filled with life!