Every day, 1000’s of hooks and nets meant for fish find yourself catching seabirds — a world drawback that’s pushing many seabird species to the brink of extinction. But no fishing gear might do extra injury than the gillnet, which entangles and kills at least 400,000 seabirds every year.
What if all it took to avoid wasting them was a pair of googly eyes?
It’s not fairly that easy, however a group of scientists, conservationists and engineers are creating a tool that has the potential to avoid wasting many seabirds from gillnets. This machine, referred to as the looming-eyes buoy, is basically a floating scarecrow.
A prototype was lately examined on long-tailed geese in Küdema Bay in Estonia. The outcomes of this research, published on Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science, counsel that looming-eyes buoys can scale back the variety of seabirds by as much as 30 % inside a 165-foot radius. Although the looming-eyes buoy received’t utterly clear up the issue, it’s a step in the precise route, specialists say.
Preventing albatross, petrels, gannets, boobies and different seabirds from being caught in gillnets is just not simple. The odor of a gillnet loaded with fish can entice seabirds from miles away. And when these birds dive into the water to get what they thought was a free meal, they will turn out to be entangled within the gillnet and drown.
In 2018, conservationists from BirdLife International, a conservation group, started brainstorming methods to forestall such occurrences.
“We thought that if we could prevent vulnerable seabirds from diving too close to the gillnets in the first place, we might be able to finally tackle bycatch significantly,” stated Yann Rouxel, a undertaking officer at BirdLife International and lead creator of the brand new research. That’s when Mr. Rouxel and his group got here up with the concept for a marine scarecrow.
He and his colleagues shared their concept with scientists from the Estonian Ornithological Society and engineers from Fishtek Marine, an organization that makes fishing tools, and simply over a 12 months later the looming-eyes buoy was born.
Much just like the scarecrows that line cornfields or the plastic owls that sit atop workplace buildings, the looming-eyes buoy deters birds by way of intimidation. The giant, rotating eye spots that sit atop the bobbing buoy are designed to resemble the staring eyes of a giant predator.
Last 12 months, the researchers behind the looming-eyes buoy positioned a number of prototypes in Küdema Bay to see whether or not they might successfully deter the native long-tailed geese. After 250 hours of statement, the group discovered that the presence of the bug-eyed buoys diminished the variety of long-tailed geese inside a 165-foot radius by 20 % to 30 % in contrast with conventional buoys.
“If we put ourselves in the place of the diving birds, it is not surprising that large staring eyes at the surface of the water may dissuade them from coming near, mimicking the gaze of a potential predator,” stated Brendan Godley, a professor of conservation science on the University of Exeter in England.
“It is an excellent example of the kind of innovation that needs to be encouraged,” stated Dr. Godley, who was not concerned within the research.
The researchers additionally discovered that long-tailed geese returned to the areas that they had vacated as soon as the looming-eyes buoys had been eliminated, suggesting that the buoys’ results weren’t everlasting.
Although the prototype confirmed promise, extra analysis and growth are wanted.
“Our previous prototype worked great, but it is currently too heavy and large to be used” in gillnet fisheries, Mr. Rouxel stated.
The researchers plan on testing a smaller and lighter model within the Icelandic lumpfish fishery quickly.
If profitable, these units could possibly be used to scale back seabird bycatch in small- and large-scale gillnet fisheries all over the world. However, the looming-eyes buoy is way from a panacea to avoid wasting seabirds from fishing gear. The extent of seabird bycatch might be underreported and never absolutely understood, and the issue received’t be solved by technical options with googly eyes alone.
“It is unlikely that a silver-bullet solution exists, though,” Mr. Rouxel stated, “so a toolbox of measures is probably our best option.”