Scotland is hotspot for breeding seabirds
WHEN British seabirds aren’t on land, it is likely they are feeding in the coastal waters around Scotland, new research has revealed.
A five-year project tracked more than 1,300 breeding seabirds and results reveal the majority of the ‘ hotspots’ are concentrated in the coastal waters around Scotland.
The study, headed by the RSPB in partnership with more than a dozen scientists from leading research institutes, estimated the areas used by four species: kittiwakes, shags, razorbills and guillemots.
Dr Ewan Wakefield, lead author of the research, said: ‘Many seabirds are at the top of the marine food web.
‘They feed on sand eels and other small fish but that prey is declining because of human pressures, including climate change. The result is that thousands of seabird chicks are dying each year because their parents can’t feed them.
‘For the first time, this study provides us with a full map for each breeding colony of the feeding areas for some of our most important seabird species.
‘That means we can now protect the places these birds catch the fish they need to feed their hungry chicks, securing the fate of future generations of these amazing creatures.’
The information obtained could play a major role in helping to understand seabirds, as they are among the most endangered birds in the world.
Ellie Owen, who led on the tracking work, said: ‘The sight and sound of hundreds of thousands of seabirds flocking to our shores is an amazing natural spectacle and something that we must help protect for future generations to enjoy. The methods used in this study could be applied to other seabird species, to show where they go at sea.
‘This will be an invaluable tool in helping to protect seabirds, as it will improve our ability to assess the likely impacts on breeding seabirds of offshore wind farms, oil spills and other potentially harmful activities in our increasingly industrialised seas.’