8 Jun 2017
Today we celebrate World Oceans Day as we finally reach 10 million – not dollars, pounds or euros – but valuable data points in the Seabird Tracking Database. Discover how this inspiring international collaboration enables scientists and policy-makers to better understand and protect seabirds.
Seabirds undertake some of the most incredible migratory journeys in the world. Take the Arctic Tern, for example, whose travels from pole to pole every year exceed a whopping distance of 80,000 km, or many shearwaters and skuas, with journeys of tens of thousands of km, often across ocean basins. Protecting such highly migratory bird species is a challenge, as different scientists, institutions or NGOs gather local data and try to safeguard their patch of ocean with limited funds.
Inevitably, conservationists can lose sight of the big picture if there’s no place to share the information. This is where the Seabird Tracking Database comes into play. One of the largest conservation collaborations in the world, it was established by BirdLife in 2003, when data on 16 species of albatrosses and petrels were put together for the first time in order to identify the most important places for these seabirds and ensure their protection.
From albatrosses to penguins, petrels and gulls, the tracking database now gathers seabird data from over 120 research institutes (including BirdLife and its Partners), and more than 170 scientists. Data on Critically Endangered species such as the Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena, the Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus and another 36 globally threatened species are regularly registered in the database. In total, the database holds information for 113 species in more than 10 million locations.