New citizen science project looking for help with seabirds

A new citizen science project was launched this week, in collaboration with BBC’s Autumnwatch.  “Seabird watch” aims to count populations of seabird colonies at various nesting locations around the North Atlantic by asking online volunteers to classify camera trap images.  By doing so, participants can help to gather data to advance the project aims:

  • Determine chick survival and breeding success, and how this varies
  • Identify the causes of chick mortality
  • Compare chick survival/breeding success regionally and whether this is linked to anthropogenic or ecological factors
  • Record changes in the timing of breeding of populations and how this is affected by environmental conditions
  • Determine whether particular species overwinter at breeding sites and if this is mediated by local environmental conditions


Global seabird populations are in decline due to multiple impacts like fishing, pollution, direct disturbance and climate change. A good understanding of the reasons behind this will allow appropriate action to be put in place and this starts with research.

Because seabirds spend the majority of their life at sea and feed near the top of the food chain, changes in their populations are likely to reflect changes occurring in the wider ecosystem, making them excellent indicators of the health of the marine environment.  Globally, they are now the most threatened group of birds and this will in turn impact wider ecosystems.


The images in this project come from Skellig Michael off the west coast of Ireland, Rathin Island off the north coast of Northern Ireland, Puffin Island off the coast of Anglesey in Wales, Skomer off the southwest coast of Wales, Elliðaey island in west Iceland, Hvitabjarnarey Island in west Iceland, and three sites on the west coast of Svalbard.  The project hopes to add cameras in many more locations to make this a global monitoring tool for seabird colonies.

To get involved visit Seabird Watch or follow them on Facebook or Twitter

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