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Albatross Task Force leader wins major award with seabird-saving invention - BirdLife International

1. How did you become interested in conservation?

Twenty years ago when I was doing fieldwork for my master thesis I would routinely go out on small fishing boats. On these boats I noticed that they weren’t just catching the fish they wanted, they were also catching a large number of other species as bycatch which they then had to discard. That’s when I first thought about working to make fishing more sustainable, and indirectly with that, in conservation. When I started working, what interested me, and what keeps interesting me, was always how to make commercial fishing as eco-friendly as possible, so that it has minimal impact on marine ecosystems.

2. In 2008 you began working with the Albatross Task Force trying to reduce bycatch. One of the ways you did this was by inventing a device called the Tamini Tabla, which stabilizes bird-scaring lines in the wind. How did you come up with that idea?

One of my goals when I began working with the Albatross Task Force was to increase the usage of bird-scaring lines. This method [which involves using colorful streamers to ward birds away from trawl cables or longline hooks] is one of the simplest and most economical ways to reduce the instances of birds crashing into trawling cables. However, these lines can become tangled in the trawl cables, wearing them out and causing problems for fishing crews.

The solution was to design something that would weigh the bird-scaring lines down, to maintain the tension and keep the lines separated from the trawl cables. After pondering on the question for a while, and discarding a few ideas that wouldn’t work for technical reasons, I thought that we should try doing something like a miniature surfboard, with a keel at about 45 degrees to make sure the board stayed even. With the help of some crew I was able to put together a prototype from materials found on board the vessel. We tested it, and incredibly, it worked great! The lines were more taut and went out at about a 20 degree angle away from the vessel.

3. What’s the most difficult part of inventing something?

Thomas Edison once said genius was one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration. I think it’s the same for inventing. You can have a spark that generates a great idea but then there’s the process to get to the final product which includes an infinite amount of testing materials, changes, adaptations, and all this back and forth.

4. How did it feel to get the Marsh Award?

It’s always nice to receive recognition for your work. For me though, the Marsh Prize isn’t just about the prestige, but about the fact that in my category, so many conservationists whose work I admire have won it before. That really makes me proud.

5. What is it like to work with the fishing industry?

From small fisheries to the largest companies, everyone has the same objective: to make a living selling what they get from the sea. Regardless of their opinion of the sea and its wildlife, all of them are investing in lines, nets or vessels for a livelihood whose success is in no way assured. In order to guarantee they can meet their daily needs and those of their family, they are all striving to recoup this investment.

It’s important to consider this when we are working with the industry. Our strategy to address any harmful actions that result from this is different depending on the sector. With captains and fishing officials, we visit them on their own boats, and suggest adaptations to make sure each mitigation measure is optimized for their particular vessel. With entrepreneurs, we try to educate them about the environmental certifications available and what the advantages of these certifications are. No matter what though, we always try to make sure we are...


Some Seabirds Thrive at the Margins - Hakai Magazine

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Seabirds and other ocean predators know the hunting is best at the subtle boundary between mixed and stratified water. Diving seabirds forage for prey at these intersections, as do certain fish and cetaceans. Researchers have known this for decades, too, but it’s never been clear why these boundaries—known as tidal fronts—are good places to hunt.

Stratified water is layered—its physical and chemical qualities changing through the water column. Maybe it’s warm at the surface and cold at the seabed, for instance. Stratified water is common where the ocean is dead and the current is slow. On the other side of a tidal front, the water is well mixed, its properties consistent no matter how deep you go. Mixed water is common in shallow areas of the sea with fast currents.

To investigate why hunting seabirds seek out tidal fronts, James Waggitt, a marine ecologist at Bangor University in Wales, and his colleagues crisscrossed the northern Celtic Sea in a boat and counted diving seabirds of two species: the common guillemot and the Manx shearwater . They recorded how often they saw the birds plunging into the water to hunt or resting on the surface. They also measured the abundance of fish and used the water’s depth and the speed of the current to map where the ocean was likely to be stratified or mixed.

The researchers found that in mixed water, shoals of fish were big and close to the surface—both good things for a diving predator. Yet these large groups of fish were rare; finding one would be difficult. In stratified water, by contrast, fish shoals were more common, though the fish swam deeper and in smaller groups. Neither water type was perfect from a seabird’s perspective.

“But at the interface of these two water bodies,” Waggitt says, “you tend to get the best of both worlds.” Within the tidal front, mediumly abundant, medium-sized groups of fish swim at medium depths .

Waggitt speculates fish behavior within tidal fronts may also factor into the seabirds’ hunting success. “Perhaps when they’re moving between the two water bodies, the behavior of the fish is changing,” he says. Perhaps the shoals become disorganized when transitioning between habitats, for instance. Or, they may pay less attention to predators.

Jonathan Green, a seabird biologist at the University of Liverpool in England who was not involved in the study, says the work “definitely adds insight into how and why predators such as seabirds use tidal fronts.” Many studies have shown the pattern of predators hunting at these boundaries, he says, but few have given insight into why.

Predators at the tidal front, however, may face a future where prime hunting spots are less fruitful than they once were. Waggitt says renewable energy infrastructure, such as wind or tidal turbines, can change the speed of currents or the properties of the seabed and alter ocean stratification patterns around these installations. Tidal fronts could shift, and if seabirds don’t shift their behavior in response, they might start coming up dry.

Cite this Article:

Cite this Article: Elizabeth Preston “Some Seabirds Thrive at the Margins,” Hakai Magazine , Nov 8, 2018, accessed November 18th, 2018, .


DINGHIES OF DEEP COVE: “Rascal” boat suits sailor just fine - North Shore News

Whether it’s a yacht or a sport cruiser, we get the scoop on watercrafts that call the Cove home. For October, we feature “Rascal” – a Seabird 37 belonging to Deep Cove Yacht Club member Randy Young , who writes about his memories on the boat.

Rascal is a Seabird 37, raised-deck pilothouse built by Cooper Yachts in Canada in 1982.

I was helping a friend do some maintenance on another Cooper boat in Point Roberts and saw Rascal there. I knew immediately I needed to speak with the owner. At that time he was planning next season’s trip, so I left him my number. He called a few months later to see if I was still interested and we struck a deal.

Rascal’s raised deck gives you a dining salon above the waterline so you get a view and lots of light. I always have pasta and root vegetables on board for roasting; there may be some wine as well.

Deep Cove Yacht Club has the Iron Bay station, so we have year-round access to nature. Occasionally, I spot a swimming bear or deer. The salmon can be pretty thick at the top of the Arm too!

We’re very fortunate. The B.C. Coast is pretty spectacular anywhere but we all have favourite places if we can find them again!

One of the more memorable outings was when we had an engine problem on the outside of Montague Harbour. I was with my daughter Erin and her friend Darcy; they were about 13 or so. We had to sail away from the anchorage and into the marina to a slip, so the mechanic could work on our fuel system. It was exciting for all concerned. Dinner was good that evening.

Sailing under headsail alone is my favourite; it’s quiet and very relaxing. My daughters visit if I am up the Arm, and their friends come from time to time. Everyone gets busy with their lives, so it’s nice to see them.

I started sailing in Sydney, Nova Scotia, with the Sea Cadets when I was 14. The experience made me want to live on a coast somewhere.

I joined DCYC in 1981 when I lived up in the Sunshine Falls area when it was boat-access only. We bought there in 1978 and sold in 1997. I now live in Raven Woods. ■


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