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Horta ,  November 23, 2018

SOS Cory's Shearwater campaign contributes to study the impact of marine litter on birds, says Regional Director for Sea Affairs

The Regional Director for Sea Affairs stated in Horta that the SOS Cory's Shearwater campaign is an opportunity to "maximise the research towards results to support decision-making in public policies for nature conservation."
 
In this regard, Felipe Porteiro pointed out that all juvenile specimens that are found lifeless and "in good condition are preserved to be used in subsequent research," which allow us to study, for example, the impact of marine litter on these birds.
 
This is the case of LIXAZ, a project led by researcher Christopher Pham at the Oceanography and Fisheries Department of the University of the Azores. Since 2015, he already analysed the stomach contents of 415 Cory's Shearwater specimens, of which 90% contained microplastics.
 
The Regional Director spoke on the sidelines of the "Golden Cory's Shearwater prize-delivery ceremony, stressing that "these birds have never fed directly from the sea, so all the marine litter is brought by the parents during feeding in the nesting stage."
 
Filipe Porteiro made a "very positive" assessment of this year's SOS Cory's Shearwater campaign, with 5,076 juvenile birds saved throughout the archipelago. He also highlighted that scientific brigades are "standing out in the various groups working to collect these birds."
 
The Regional Director stated that, over the years, many people and entities have been involved in this initiative in a "very emotional" way. This year, 25 citizens and entities were distinguished for their work and efforts in this area.
 
The Mobile SOS Cory's Shearwater, one of the novelties of this year's campaign, consists of a beta version of a form that could be accessed on a smartphone with the aim of registering, in real time, the place where the birds were found. According to Filipe Porteiro, this initiative "worked."
 
In this context, he mentioned a volunteer from Pico Island who has always used that application with geographical positions, having recorded the rescue of 65 birds.
 
According to the Regional Director, São Jorge is usually the island where more Cory's Shearwater specimens are found, followed by Pico.
 
"Cory's Shearwater specimens prefer steep cliffs to make nesting colonies and the island of São Jorge, due to its relief, is the ideal place for the reproduction of these birds," said the government official. For this reason, it is "difficult" to conduct censuses and exactly "determine how many birds nest in the Azores."
 
Filipe Porteiro highlighted the importance of the Interreg MAC European project designated as LuMinAves, of which the Regional Directorate for Sea Affairs is a partner entity. The initiative aims to improve the seabird rescue network and support infrastructures in the archipelagos of Macaronesia.
 
Implemented in 2016, this project aims to "study the impact of light pollution on Cory's Shearwater specimens, which are adversely affected by lights as they are guided by the stars. With artificial lighting, they become disoriented, fall and are vulnerable to trampling and predators such as dogs and cats, said the government official.
 
"On the one hand, through this project, we will better understand the phenomenon of light pollution and, on the other hand, mitigate its impact by reducing lights at critical sites," said the government official.
 
Filipe Porteiro also pointed out that, through LuMinAves, it is possible to carry out awareness and "citizen science" campaigns, adding that "the Azores are exporting the SOS Cory's Shearwater campaign to Madeira and the Canary Islands."
 
The Regional Director noted, however, that the Canary Islands "are at another development and methodology level" in the study of seabirds. The Azores have already incorporated some of these methodologies into the scientific SOS Cory's Shearwater methodology.
 
Coordinated by the Spanish Society of Ornithology, LuMinAves has as partners the Regional Directorate for Sea Affairs, the Regional Fund for Science and Technology, SPEA - Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds and Madeira Natural Park. The project also involves other entities such as the Department of Oceanography and Fisheries of the University of the Azores, several municipalities and the electricity companies of the archipelagos of Macaronesia.
 
Further information about the "Golden Cory's Shearwater" prize is available at the address:  http://www.azores.gov.pt/Gra/dramsoscagarro/menus/secundario/Prémio+Cagarro+DOuro/.


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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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