Hi everybody -
For your information, a news release from BirdLife International.
WORLD'S RAREST GULL SPECIES ENDANGERED BY GALAPAGOS OIL SPILL
Cambridge, UK, 24 January 2001 -- BirdLife International today warned that
the Lava Gull, the world's rarest gull species, is the bird species most at
risk from the Jessica oil spill because of the location of its colonies on
islands in the vicinity of the oil slick [1,2].
The slick has reportedly moved south and west from San Cristobal Island
towards Espanola and Santa Cruz Islands since the wreck, and Lava Gulls are
present on all three of these islands.
A species found only in the Galapagos Islands, the Lava Gull is one of five
globally threatened bird species present on the islands and threatened by
this spill . It qualifies for the IUCN Red List because of its small
population which is estimated to number 600 to 800 individual birds.
"If a Lava Gull population decline was to occur as a result of the Jessica
oil spill this species would have to go onto the Endangered list", said Dr
Michael Rands, Director and Chief Executive of BirdLife International.
"BirdLife wants governments and oil companies to avoid shipping hazardous
cargo such as oil close to sensitive and important wildlife hotspots such
as the Galapagos Islands, otherwise similar spills and accidents will
inevitably occur at other important sites. Prevention is the only
effective solution to this problem," said Dr Rands
In response to the Jessica oil spill BirdLife International will
co-ordinate the provision of expertise and material support where
appropriate and feasible, and will draw on the expertise of from the
BirdLife worldwide network which has been involved in responding to
previous oil spills, he said.
"BirdLife also plans to launch an initiative to promote better protection
of such sites from hazardous shipping and will approach oil companies and
governments to draw up a list of these sites", said Dr Rands. "Candidate
sites include Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs) with breeding populations of
threatened seabirds such as the Cape Verde Islands EBA, Socotra EBA,
Madeira & Canary Islands EBA, the Falkland Islands EBA, Seychelles EBA,
Mauritius EBA and the Bahamas EBA."
"It is unacceptable that a major oil spill has occurred so close to a
globally important site for birds and other wildlife. This spill comes
less than two years after previous major spills hit seabirds off the French
and South African coasts," said Dr Rands. "In this case five globally
threatened species that occur nowhere else in the world could be adversely
Insufficient control, inspection, and regulation of shipping is also a
concern. According to the Ecuadorian newspaper, El Comercio, the Jessica
strayed from the navigation channel clearly marked on the sea chart and the
Captain was unaware that she was running into shallow water.
For further information please contact Michael Szabo at BirdLife
International on +44 (0)1223 277 318 or 07779 018332 (mobile). Photos of
some of the bird species mentioned in this release and a selection of maps
are available for media use only on the BirdLife International website at
1. BirdLife International is a global alliance of conservation
organisations working in more than 100 countries who, together, are the
leading authority on the status of birds, their habitats and the issues and
problems affecting bird life. BirdLife Partners include the Royal Society
for the Protection of Birds (UK), Fundacion Ornitologica del Ecuador (CECIA
- Ecuador), and Birds Australia.
2. The Galapagos Islands have been identified as an Endemic Bird Area
(EBA). An EBA is defined as an area which encompasses the overlapping
breeding ranges of restricted-range bird species, such that the complete
ranges of two or more restricted-range species are entirely included within
the boundary of the EBA.
3. The other four globally threatened species are Galapagos Cormorant,
Galapagos Penguin, Waved Albatross and Galapagos Petrel. The Galapagos
Islands are also an important 'hotspot' for less threatened seabirds as
well as rare and threatened land birds. Other more abundant seabird
species found in the Galapagos Islands that are at risk from the Jessica
oil spill include the Swallow-tailed Gull (endemic), Brown Pelican,
Blue-footed Booby, Red-billed Tropicbird and White-rumped Storm Petrel.
Threatened land birds are not as directly threatened by the Jessica oil
spill in the same way that seabirds are. Globally threatened land birds
present in the Galapagos Islands include the Floreana Mockingbird and Hood
Mockingbird both found on tiny islets off Santa Maria Island
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