Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Climate Change Drives Endangered Seabird Into UK Waters

Date:
October 24, 2007
Source:
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Summary:
Around 10 per cent of the world population of Balearic shearwaters has visited UK inshore waters this summer and autumn, with more than 1,200 birds being recorded from just one watchpoint near Land's End in Cornwall. Balearic shearwaters are the only European seabird to be classified as 'critically endangered' on the recently released 2007 International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List. They could become extinct by 2050 if current rates of decline continue.

Balearic shearwater about to land.
Credit: Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Photo by Kris Gillam

Around 10 per cent of the world population of Balearic shearwaters has visited UK inshore waters this summer and autumn, with more than 1,200 birds being recorded from just one watchpoint near Land's End in Cornwall.

The findings come from a new survey, led by scientists at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS) in collaboration with the RSPB, which has been monitoring numbers of the birds off the coast of South West England.

Balearic shearwaters are the only European seabird to be classified as 'critically endangered' on the recently released 2007 International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List. They could become extinct by 2050 if current rates of decline continue.

Dr Russell Wynn, who is co-ordinating the SeaWatch SW survey, said: 'Balearic shearwaters leave their Mediterranean breeding colonies in late summer and head for richer feeding grounds along north Atlantic coasts. The numbers recorded during the survey this year show how important our inshore waters are to this highly vulnerable seabird'. 

The survey builds upon new research recently published in the Royal Society journal, Biology Letters, which highlights global warming as a key driver behind the upsurge in UK Balearic shearwater sightings.

Dr Wynn and colleagues showed how northeast Atlantic sea surface temperatures rose by 0.6 degrees Celsius in the mid-1990s, triggering a northwards shift in the Balearic shearwater's prey fish species and with it the birds that feed on them.

'Just 20 years ago Balearic shearwaters were scarce visitors to South West waters, but they are now regularly recorded from headlands throughout the UK. Since 2003 we have even started seeing birds staying throughout the winter off Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, which is a completely new phenomenon linked to elevated winter sea temperatures,' said Dr Wynn.

Changes in fish distribution and abundance mean that many Balearic shearwaters are being forced to migrate 20% further - over 400 miles - in search of food than they did a few years ago.

Experts say the effects on survival of individual birds are hard to assess, but could well be contributing to the species highly endangered status.

Dr Wynn added: 'Climate change is often perceived to be a future threat, but the reality for our marine fauna is that it is happening now. Species towards the top of the food chain are having to respond very rapidly in order to survive, and some are going to be pushed to extinction if they fail'.

Protection needed

Marine wildlife faces a variety of other threats in addition to climate change, but enjoys little or no legal protection in UK seas. The RSPB, along with other conservation organisations, is campaigning for the Government to include a Marine Bill in this year's Queen's Speech. The draft Bill includes proposals for a new system of marine planning and licensing, modernising fisheries management and the introduction of Marine Conservation Zones.

The RSPB's South West seabird specialist, Helen Booker, said: 'The Government has recently placed Balearic shearwaters on its new 'BAP list' of priority species needing conservation action, because the birds face an extreme threat of global extinction.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. "Climate Change Drives Endangered Seabird Into UK Waters." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071020093648.htm>.
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. (2007, October 24). Climate Change Drives Endangered Seabird Into UK Waters. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071020093648.htm
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. "Climate Change Drives Endangered Seabird Into UK Waters." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071020093648.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins