Nearly ex­tinct se­abird con­firmed to be breed­ing on Ja­panese is­land

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

En­dan­gered Bryan’s shear­wa­ter seabirds have been seen breed­ing on one of the Oga­sawara Is­lands in Tokyo, the Forestry and For­est Prod­ucts Re­search In­sti­tute (FFPRI) has an­nounced.

“The area may be the sole habi­tat (in the world) for the species,” said Kazuto Kawakami, a se­nior re­searcher at the Tsukuba, Ibaraki Pre­fec­ture-based FFPRI.

The dis­cov­ery is ex­pected to help re­veal the life of the birds, which has been shrouded in mys­tery. Only eight Bryan’s shear­wa­ter have been seen alive.

Bryan’s shear­wa­ter are about 27 cen­time­ters to 30 cen­time­ters long, and weigh about 130 to 150 grams. The up­per half of their body is black, ex­cept for around the eyes. The bird’s lower half is white and its legs are blue.

The species was be­lieved to have be­come ex­tinct af­ter sight­ings of a sin­gle bird on the Mid­way Is­lands in 1963 and 1991, re­spec­tively.

In 2012, the Tsukuba in­sti­tute and other re­search or­ga­ni­za­tions an­nounced they had con­firmed six live Bryan’s shear­wa­ter on the Oga­sawara Is­lands from 1997 to 2011, giv­ing the species the Ja­panese name Oga­sawara himem­izu­nagi­dori.

Af­ter that, how­ever, there were no new re­ports of the bird, which is listed as an en­dan­gered species on the red lists of the En­vi­ron­ment Min­istry and the In­ter­na­tional Union for the Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture and Nat­u­ral Re­sources.

This year, the FFPRI and the In­sti­tute of Boni­nol­ogy in the vil­lage of Oga­sawara con­ducted re­search in a three-hectare area of the un­in­hab­ited Hi­gashijima is­land from the night of Feb. 25 to the morn­ing of Feb. 26.

Search­ing for the bird’s high­pitched chirp sound, the re­search team found 10 Bryan’s shear­wa­ters and cap­tured four, mea­sur­ing their length and other phys­i­cal sizes. The birds were re­leased im­me­di­ately af­ter­ward.

One of the 10 birds was sit­ting on eggs in an un­der­ground nest in a state-owned for­est, home to such in­dige­nous plants as Oga­sawara susuki sil­ver grass and takonoki screw pine.

The Forestry Agency plans to start work in the area to re­move gin­nemu white pon­tiac — an alien plant that could make lands un­suit­able for the en­dan­gered bird’s re­pro­duc­tion — as it has been caus­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal de­struc­tion on the is­land.

“We should say Bryan’s shear­wa­ter is on the verge of ex­tinc­tion, as we could find only 10 in the three-hectare area,” Kawakami said. “We want to con­duct re­search (on the species) on other is­lands, too.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.