Thursday, December 6, 2012

Successes for Pacific Seabirds

This week, there have been a couple of announcements about huge successes for the conservation of seabirds in the Pacific.

This first comes from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (HLNR). In 2011, a predator proof fence was installed at the Ka'ena Point Natural Area Reserve on Oahu. The fence keeps non-native predators like mongoose, rats, and mice out of the area and allows the seabirds to nest with no risk of predation from these outside influences. This has lead to some pretty dramatic increases in the quantity of nesting seabirds. According to the HLNR, the number of hatchings for Wedge-tailed Shearwaters has more than doubled from the previous high! The number has gone from 1,556 in 2007 to 3,274 this year. Laysan Albatross numbers have also increased 15% since the fence was installed. Hopefully more money can be found and more fences installed in other nesting areas so we can continue to have more and more seabirds in the Pacific! You can find the full story here: http://goo.gl/s1ca7.

Although this Great Shearwater does not occur in the Pacific, there are similar regulations in the Atlantic that help species such as this one. Not to mention, it is one of my only good shots of a seabird!
The other story comes from BirdLife International. Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) announced that they have agreed to adopt new measures that are likely to reduce the number of albatross that get tangled in long line fishing hooks and drown. According to BirdLife, scientists estimate that 300,000 seabirds die each year from this cause and it seems to be the main reason that 17 of the worlds 22 species of albatross are threatened with extinction. It is estimated that once these measures are put into place, the number of albatrosses killed could drop by up to 80%! The full story can be found here: http://goo.gl/MqOrD.

I really hope that these stories will make a huge impact on the conservation of our seabirds. Hopefully, I will have the chance to see and photograph at least one of these species while I am in Hawaii next year!

-Rob

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