FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLICATION
Volunteers needed for annual survey of pollution on South West’s beaches
The RSPB needs more volunteers to walk the South West’s beaches to help with its annual survey of seabird deaths caused by marine pollution.
The National Beached Bird Survey has been monitoring how seabirds and beaches are affected by oil and other pollutants since 1971, providing valuable information on the state of our seas.
This year’s survey takes place on the weekend of 25/26 February, and about 250 volunteers will walk the strandline of many of the South West’s beaches recording beached birds, and other indicators of marine pollution.
Volunteers are needed to help in all the South West’s coastal counties, in particular Devon and Cornwall. You will need to have basic seabird identification skills, be able to map read, and be sufficiently fit and mobile to walk the allocated beach.
Detailed guidance will be given on safety and on biosecurity, in the light of recent cases of avian flu. The survey does not involve handling dead birds.
The RSPB’s Natasha Laverick, co-ordinating the survey in the South West, said: “This simple but important survey was first organised by the RSPB in England in 1971 and is a proven way of monitoring trends in oil and other pollution affecting seabirds and beaches.
“There are a number of accessible beaches still without a surveyor and this is a great way of contributing valuable information that will help us conserve the marine environment.”
Although chronic oil pollution is not as common as it once was, major incidents do occur, such as the Napoli oil spill of 2007, while plastics are increasingly a problem. In the event of a major incident, or large numbers of seabirds dying because of so-called ‘wrecks’ caused by prolonged bad weather, the RSPB organises emergency beached bird surveys.
Anybody who would like to volunteer should contact Natasha Laverick on 01392 453766 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Survey packs will be sent to volunteers and survey beaches allocated. The National Beached Bird Survey takes place on the weekend of the 25/26 February although beaches can be walked one week either side.
For further information, images, or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Chris Baker, RSPB Communications Officer, 01392 453299 / 07701 050010
Volunteers should have basic seabird identification skills. For example be able to tell a razorbill from a guillemot, or a herring gull from a kittiwake, and be familiar with seabirds commonly encountered at sea or on shore. Familiarity with winter plumages would be an advantage too.
The survey does not involve rock climbing or scrambling but volunteers should be fit enough to walk their allocated beach, which could involve a distance of three to four miles.
The survey may involve encountering dead or injured seabirds.
Volunteers will be briefed on what to do if dead birds are seen, which adheres to government guidance on avian flu.
The RSPB is NOT an animal welfare organisation but we will liaise with the RSPCA if necessary if surveyors encounter injured seabirds.
The National Beached Bird Survey was launched in 1971 and has existed in its current format since 1991.
Tel: 01392 453299
Mobile: 07701 050010
South West Regional Office, 4th Floor (North Block), Broadwalk House, Southernhay West, Exeter, Devon, EX1 1TS
www.rspb.org.uk Let's give nature a home
The RSPB is the country’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654