Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Living Sanctuary section includes Marine Life, Habitats, Ocean Environment, History and Culture

Common Murre

Common Murre
(Uria aalge)

Habitat
Ocean, bays, rocky shores and coastal cliffs.

Range
Abundant off West and East coasts.

Eats
Mostly small fish, plus shrimp, squid, crustaceans, molluscs, worms

Feeds
Feeds entirely by pursuit-diving. Partly extends its wings and propels itself underwater in search of prey. Can stay underwater for 60 seconds. Carries single fish lengthwise in mouth with head of fish held in mouth cavity.

Moves
Often rafts on water in large groups. Dives frequently; capable of diving to depths of more than 240 feet. Recorded to 550 feet. Stands erect on sea cliffs. Flies in lines; flight is swift and strong.

Behavior
Nearly always in the water when not breeding. Solitary or in small groups.

Voice
Silent at sea. In flight makes a soft murrr sound; on nesting ground, low guttural calls heard above ocean waves. Distinctive high-pitched contact calls are made by fledged juveniles while still under their father's care.

Reproduction
Breeds in sanctuary in dense colonies on sea stacks and flat-topped islands. Socially monogamous, one chick per year. Egg laid on bare rock. Pear-shaped eggs are adapted to spin in a circle rather than roll off a cliff.

Threats
Most frequent victims of oil spills. Highly sensitive to aerial and boating disturbances; may flee in fear, leaving chicks and eggs vulnerable to predators such as gulls and raptors.

Status
Washington State Candidate Protected under Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Presence in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary
Resident; present all year

Notes
Common Murres have the most densely packed nesting colonies of any bird. Nests are so close together that incubating adults are feather to feather on both sides. Droppings from these large colonies fertilize the food chain in surrounding waters.



Contact for page content: Liam Antrim
Photo of peach coral
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