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  • by Dominic Noce

Volunteering for the Osprey Project

Since I was very young, I have been passionate about wildlife. My career objective is to become a wildlife biologist specializing in carnivore behavior and biology. An important carnivore in the coastal Newburyport area is the osprey, a species of hawk with an exclusive diet of fish. Like the bald eagle, the osprey was devastated by DDT pesticide use in the 1970s and is still recovering in most areas.

In the spring of 2015, I began to collaborate with the Essex County Greenbelt Association's Osprey Program. Volunteers construct and install nesting platforms to encourage mated pairs in the area to nest and breed during the summer. We also monitor known nests to observe egg and hatchling activity, some with the help of motion-sensing cameras. Every day during the summer, we travel to the nests and tag fledglings with satellite trackers to study their winter migration to Venezuela and back. I recently attended the first New England Osprey Symposium at which conservation biologists and citizen scientists shared information concerning research, challenges, and strategies.

Volunteering for the Osprey Project is important to me because it makes a positive difference to the wildlife and conservation community. Since ospreys are at the top of the food chain, their recovery indicates that the coastal ecosystem in Newburyport is healthy, providing a habitat for many plants and animals that are required to sustain this bird. Newburyport also benefits from an increase in tourism from birders hoping to catch a glimpse of these amazing predators. Ospreys lead local fishermen to fishing hotspots, assisting fisheries. Most of all, this project helps save a beautiful and fascinating bird from extinction so it can soar gracefully in the skies once again.

Currently, I am a senior at Newburyport High School. I have not yet decided where I will begin my undergraduate education this fall. Wherever it is, I know I will be fulfilling my passion for becoming a wildlife biologist to help reverse the catastrophic population decline of large predators. To support my goal, I participate in wildlife conservation projects and help lead positive environmental change as a member of the Newburyport Gulf of Maine Institute (GOMI) Team. This article is a direct result of my involvement in GOMI's collaboration with the Essex County Greenbelt Association's Osprey Program. I want to thank the Osprey Program for providing me such an exciting opportunity to assist with its important osprey work and GOMI Journal for the opportunity to share my experiences with its readers.

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