A Surprising Threshold for Seabird Survival

SeabirdsSeabirds give us immense pleasure when we visit the regions where they frequent during their breeding seasons. However, their numbers are getting less by the day because of the same creatures that enjoy the scene – the humans. Unfortunately, fishing for human consumption is taking off a big slice from the seabirds’ staple diet – the small fish.

Well documented research work gives us correct and proper information regarding all aspects of life; similarly, research done on seabirds and their breeding habits have startling results. Improper and uncontrolled fishing is leaving less of the fish in the sea for the seabirds to forage and this is adversely affecting their breeding capacity. It has been found that fewer eggs are laid when there is less small fish for the seabirds to dive and catch. 

The research was conducted by Philippe Cury of the Institute of Research for Development in Sete, France and other research workers from different parts of the world. The research paper stressed on the relation between availability of small fish and number of eggs. As an example, the Atlantic puffin laid a record number of fewer eggs during the 1960s when the herring was fished indiscriminately in the Norwegian Sea.

Cited as “the most important papers to be published in some time.” By Dee Boersma of the University of Washington in Seattle, the researchers worked hard on seven seabird species from seven different ecosystems to prove their findings. Their work covered a span of fifteen to forty seven years and always came up with the same results!

The research also points out that a number of seabirds lose their lives when they get caught in the fisherman’s’ nets or get stuck in the hooks. Fisheries may do well to wake up to this call and manage their fishing business in a more professional manner and also leave plenty of this food in the sea for the seabirds. This becomes all the more important if we do not wish to add the colorful seabirds in the list of extinct species.

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