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Ponta Delgada ,  March 17, 2009

Cory’s Shearwaters saved in the Azores return to the archipelago to breed

Cory’s Shearwaters saved in the Azores return to the archipelago to breed

Some of Shearwaters that were saved in the Azores by thousands of volunteers every year have returned seven years later to breed and raise their chicks, thus contributing to the survival of the species. In the SOS Cagarro Campaign of last year around five thousand birds were saved.

The Regional Directorate for the Environment has said that such a phenomenon and the high number of saved birds confirms the importance of preservation measures that were adopted in the islands in October and November every year to protect the most abundant sea bird of the Azores, an archipelago where 75% of the world population of this bird (Calonectris diomedea borealis) comes to breed.

It is estimated that there are around one hundred thousand couples breeding in the islands. These birds also nest and breed in the islands of Madeira, Berlengas and Canary, in the coastlines of all of these islands and in some islets and in inaccessible cliffs.

This bird prefers to nest in natural cavities and rock cracks and they often dig their own holes, which can be several meters deep.

The reproductive cycle of the species lasts for almost nine months, from the end of February until the end of October/beginning of November when the juveniles are emancipated. After this period, Shearwaters gather in large groups and migrate to the coasts of Brazil and Uruguay.

It is in the Azores that these birds begin their struggle for survival. Moved by hunger they dare their first flights into the unknown. They use the stars for orientation but since their sight is diffuse they are often fooled by the luminosity emanating from populated areas and cars.

Consequently, many Shearwaters are run over by cars or die as a result of collisions.

In order to prevent this, the Regional Secretariat for the Environment and the Sea organises every year, in October and November, and SOS Campaign dedicated to the Shearwaters, established in the ambit of the LIFE “project for the preservation of maritime bird species of the Azores.”

This campaign for the Shearwaters has two main aspects: the first has to do with the preservation of the species and consists in the organisation of monitoring initiatives, when tags are attached to juvenile birds so that their communities can be investigated and, secondly, an educational and sensitisation aspect that aims to involve people and the public authorities in the preservation and protection of juvenile Shearwaters found in risky situations.

The SOS Shearwater Campaign of 2008, which took place in all of the islands of the Azores, attracted many public authorities and persons, among which were fire-department associations, ecotecas, the regional electricity company, radios, public television, boy scouts, school groups, GNR, PSP, Maritime Police and other non-governmental organisations.

The direct involvement of thousands of persons in more than forty activities organised by the ecotecas in all islands of the archipelago assured that people were receptive to the preservation of the Shearwater. These initiatives by the ecotecas have created and inspired many conservationists, said the Regional Directorate for the Environment.

According to the Regional Directorate for the Environment, in the 2008 SOS Campaign around 5000 birds were saved, twice the number of the previous year.

Forty birds were treated by vets of the Agrarian Development Services and by private vets and more than one thousand birds were tagged, a task that was undertaken by the Department of Oceanography  and Fisheries of the University of the Azores, in the island of Faial.

In terms of birds saved per islands, Faial and São Jorge islands saved the most with around one thousand birds each. However, birds were saved in all islands of the Azores.

Given the results obtained, the Regional Government intends to continue with this campaign and has indeed proposed the centralisation of all information obtained and the use of an appropriate methodology.

Therefore, the Regional Government anticipates an enlargement of the partnerships so that, within established patterns of personal security and the well-being of the birds, it grants more autonomy to those that participate in the campaign. This will ensure that most exits from the nest will be monitored, thus increasing the likelihood that their first transatlantic flight will be successful. The Regional Directorate said that this bird is cherished by the Azorean population.


Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

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