weblog 2008

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bird cliff

31 July 2008 14:26

bird clif brünnich's guillemot with young Besides geese (barnacle and pink-footed geese) and ducks (eiders) we are very interested in kittiwakes and Brünnich’s guillemots as a potential host for influenza viruses. In the past we have been able to detect new variants of influenza viruses in both gull and auk species. These birds are nesting on the bird cliffs of Spitsbergen. Our bird cliff (Ossian Sarsfjellet) is located approximately a 45 minute boat ride from Ny Ålesund.
vincent in his climbing harnass on his way to the 100m steep clif The birds can be reached by hanging over the top of the cliff. To ensure safety while catching, the catcher is attached to an anchor point via a climbing harness and rope. If the catcher would lose his balance an involuntarily plunge into the depth is prevented by this construction.
guillemot 1 guillemot 2
The birds are caught using an 8-meter long fishing rod with a loop attached. The loop is placed over the head of the bird. By pulling the loop is tightened and the bird can be removed from the cliff. The birds are rapidly removed from their tight position in order to be sampled.
adult kittiwake Simon, professional mountaineer from the British Antarctic Survey, trained to assist scientists Vincent's golden harvest
Emmie assists with the sampling procedure Vincent releases the bird The sampling procedure is simple: since influenza viruses replicate in the intestinal and/or respiratory tract the bird is sampled from both front (throat) and back (cloaca) end. In addition, a blood sample is drawn and biometric data are recorded, and then the bird is allowed on its way again

page made by Emmie de Wit and Vincent Munster

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