08/27/2015 11:50 EDT | Updated 08/27/2016 01:12 EDT

Researchers to track northern gannets after Newfoundland nests abandoned

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Researchers at Cape St. Mary's in southeastern Newfoundland are searching for clues about why northern gannets abandoned their young again this year.

Seabird specialist Bill Montevecchi, a biologist at Memorial University of Newfoundland, says it's the third season since 2012 that chicks have been left to starve.

He estimates this year's breeding success at around 40 per cent compared to the usual 80 or 90 per cent.

Montevecchi says a suspected culprit in past years was warmer water and its effect on fish hunted by the birds.

But the usually attentive gannets left their young again this month even with normal, cooler sea temperatures.

Montevecchi says researchers are working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to fit some of the birds with tracking devices to monitor where they go.

The Canadian Press