Following the discovery of dead seabirds found on local beaches, the Bermuda Audubon Society has requested the cooperation of local fishermen to ensure the birds do not come to any further harm. The Audobon Society says that several birds have been found on local beaches including two washed up on Warwick Long Bay and retrieved by Audubon member Robin Dyer, with one of the birds, a Greater Shearwater, still having a fishing line coming out of its mouth as shown below:
Andrew Dobson, President of the Bermuda Audubon Society, said:
Many of the dead shearwaters never reach our shores – so we have no idea of how many might be involved. Greater Shearwaters are safeguarded by the Protection of Birds Act 1975. Under the Act it is illegal to kill these birds deliberately.
Greater shearwaters migrate annually past Bermuda between mid-May and mid-July. They fly in large numbers from the South Atlantic islands of Tristan da Cunha and the Falklands, to their feeding grounds in Newfoundland and the Davis Strait off Canada. It is estimated there are several million of them. It is one of the great migration spectacles of the world, a long migration which takes several months. The birds that fly past Bermuda have crossed the equator and the Sargasso Sea. There is little food for them on this part of their migration – they are hungry and desperate.
They are particularly at risk on calm days when they can’t use the wind to aid their flight. They can’t afford to expend the energy to flap their wings constantly – so they are becalmed. They are readily attracted to fishing boats and take bait. Sometimes they get hooked on the lines. Few Bermudians have the chance to see these magnificent seabirds as they don’t come near land. They shear over the ocean several miles off-shore. However, they are capable of diving over 100ft below the surface to catch bait.
Mr. Dobson went on to reccomend actions that the fishermen can take to help protect the birds, one being moving to another location where birds are not present. As the birds will usually be travelling along the South Shore of the Island, Mr Dobson says fishing boats should try to stay on the east, west and north of Bermuda on calm days. He also said that hanging coloured streamers from the back of the boat, can often ward off the overly friendly birds.
Anyone finding an injured seabird is encouraged to take it to the Aquarium where there is a bird rehabilitation unit.