Cape Cod Natural History Conference Informs Public in 22nd Year

Stephanie Ellis of Wild Care in Eastham presents at the 22nd Annual Cape Cod Natural History Conference on Saturday at 4Cs.

WEST BARNSTABLE – The 22nd Annual Cape Cod Natural History Conference on Saturday covered all things ecological in the region.

It gave the general public, policy makers and other environmental stakeholders an opportunity to learn about research and projects taking place on the Cape which benefit the environment.

Among the smattering of projects presented: a three-year study of bats on the Upper Cape, sounds that fish make, the first successful capture, rehabilitation and release of a manatee which strayed into chilly waters, and why marine animals eat plastics.

Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary Director Bob Prescott said it is invaluable for the region to have well-informed citizens and policymakers.

“In every decision, you need a public that is knowledgeable,” he said. “Ultimately, it will come down to a vote, at town meeting, or to buy a piece of land, but if it is a rare or valuable resource, they won’t know to protect it.”

Prescott said the forum also serves as a sounding board for young or transitioning researchers hoping to gain public speaking experience while sharing their insights.

Stephanie Ellis with Wild Care in Eastham detailed her organization’s efforts to rehabilitate injured seabirds.

She explained how broad donations from the community allowed Wild Care to purchase “recovery pools” for the birds to spend time recovering in. Her calculations suggest the technology helps rehab birds 50 percent faster than when they were without the pools.

Thirty Dovekies, small, football-shaped seabirds, were recently treated and released within two days.

Another presentation regarding piping plovers and their wintering habitat in the Bahamas showed that 186 nesting sites and 214 nesting pairs in Massachusetts in 2016 yielded 1.25 fledglings per pair.

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