Northern fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) are seabirds belonging to the petrel and shearwater family. The fulmar has a pale grey back and wings and a white belly, neck, and head with slightly darker feathers by their eyes. Their beaks are medium in length and hooked at the end to better help them capture their prey. The beaks are mostly grey, but with distinctive yellowing at the tip.
Fulmars feed primarily on fish, crustaceans, and sand eels. They also feed on fish waste products from fishing vessels and fish processing plants. They generally forage at the water’s surface, but can also make shallow dives for food.
Outside of the breeding season, fulmars are found almost entirely offshore in the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Arctic oceans. Their native breeding grounds include Iceland and Scotland, and also high Arctic Canada and islands in the Bering Sea.
Because the fulmar’s prey may be affected by warming temperatures and ocean acidification, it is important to monitor their population size and breeding success. The Iceland Expedition has been monitoring the fulmar colony at Skálanes for many years, and the 2020 team will continue this project. Repeated population counts over many years allows us to measure whether the size of the colony is changing, which is important for understanding the health of the ecosystem and the status of the species.
[Northern Fulmar | Audubon Field Guide](https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/northern-fulmar)
[Fulmar Bird Facts | Fulmarus Glacialis – The RSPB](https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/fulmar/)