Birdlife Shearwater Sunset Boat Tour
BirdLife Malta has just organized a series of sunset boat trips to the Ta Ċenċ cliffs in Gozo, giving many people the opportunity to see hundreds of Scopoli’s shearwaters.
This spectacular natural phenomenon occurs at this time of year when hundreds of Scopoli’s shearwaters gather in groups under the Ta’ Ċenċ cliffs at sunset before returning to their nests in these Gozitan cliffs.
The eNGO organizes these sea trips to allow the general public to see these seabirds up close during their breeding season.
“Ta’ Ċenċ is home to the largest colony of breeding Scopoli shearwaters, known as ciefa in Maltese, in the Maltese Islands and for this reason this area is classified as an Important Bird Area and is protected as a Natura 2000 site,” explained BirdLife.
Lovin Malta attended one of the boat tours organized this year and got to see the phenomenon up close and personal, as the sun set over the sea.
When navigating in this area, mariners are also required to comply with Notice to Mariners No. 44 of 2020, which states that they reduce the speed of their vessels so that they do not disturb the shearwaters resting at the surface of the sea.
“Malta is home to 2% of the world’s population of this seabird – between 3,000 and 4,000 Scopoli pairs, 1,000 of which breed in this area of Gozo.”
“This mysterious seabird spends its life on the water and only comes back to land to nest. It is easily recognizable by its grey-brown back, white belly and yellow beak.
“Scopoli’s shearwaters are known for the way they congregate in large groups called rafts during their breeding season, when they can be observed flying low over the water, waiting for the sun to set, before returning on the cliffs to their nests.”
“This natural phenomenon offers a beautiful spectacle that is repeated throughout the duration of the breeding season of these birds, with a peak in June and July.”
It is one of the main characteristics of this bird to be seen shearing the waves at this time – a characteristic which aptly describes its name “shearwater”.
“Scopoli’s shearwaters only lay one egg per year, and that is why it is crucial that this seabird is well protected because if the egg is lost, the population of this vulnerable protected seabird will continue to decline. “
The Scopoli’s shearwater currently faces a variety of challenges including predation, development and light pollution, and the population of this vulnerable and protected seabird will continue to decline.
Currently, BirdLife Malta is conducting a scientific study of another seabird that breeds in Malta and is endemic to the Mediterranean – the Yelkouan Shearwater (Maltese name: garnished).
This bird is another species of seabird that breeds on several cliffs in the Maltese Islands and the LIFE PanPuffinus! The project – a five-year collaboration between BirdLife Partners from five countries (Malta, France, Greece, Portugal and Spain) and locally the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture – works to improve the conservation status of this threatened bird. .
The project addresses two main threats these seabirds face throughout their life cycle: predation by invasive mammalian species on land and incidental capture by fishing gear (bycatch) at sea. .
“We are calling on members of the public to do their part to reduce the dangers facing seabirds by ensuring that litter is not left in the countryside, which in turn leads to an increase in rats,” BirdLife Malta said. .
“On the other hand, we encourage anglers to contact BirdLife Malta so that together we can find solutions to the problem of bycatch through several measures and initiatives that can be adopted.”
The LIFE PanPuffinus of 3.45 million euros! The project is co-funded by the LIFE program of the European Union (EU) and the Maltese Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights.
Photo credit: Aron Tanti, BirdLife Malta
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