BirdLife conducting studies on light-induced seabird ship strikes

BirdLife Malta

BirdLife Malta is studying the light-induced seabird strikes on vessels in Maltese Waters.

In a notice issued by Transport Malta and published on the Government Gazette on 7 September, the Ports and Yachting Directorate notified mariners that the local NGO is conducting research on light-induced seabird strikes on vessels in the Central Mediterranean region around the Maltese Islands from coastal to offshore.

The three main seabirds under study are the Yelkouan Shearwater, the Scopoli’s Shearwater, and the Mediterranean Storm Petrel. The NGO is also studying the effect of light from vessels on any other bird species.

The study aims to understand the scale and the extent of light-induced seabird strikes on vessels in the Central Mediterranean region. The research is connected to the EU-funded LIFE Arċipelagu Garnija Project.

Mariners are urged to provide the following details when reporting a sighting:

Vessel Information:

  • Vessel MMSI:
  • Vessel activity: anchoring/ bunkering/ in transit/ fishing
  • Level of illumination on the vessel: navigation/ deck/ accommodation (super structure)/ lights for fishing
  • Date and time (when the bird is found)
  • GPS position (where the bird is found)

Initial Observations:

  • Status of the bird: Dead or Alive
  • Number of individuals
  • Species: Yelkouan Shearwater/ Scopoli’s Shearwater/ Mediterranean Storm Petrel/ any other bird species
  • Retrieved: On deck/ in water

If found alive:

  • Condition of the bird: injured/ exhausted/ healthy/ oil on the bird
  • Flew off without assistance: yes/ no
  • Time spent on board
  • Outcome: released/ died

Mariners are requested to cooperate and support the research. These details can be provided either via email on seabirds@birdlifemalta.org or by phoning/sending an SMS or WhatsApp on +356 99894405.

They are also being requested to provide supporting evidence in the form of photos or videos of the bird as well as any additional information such as local wind direction, strength and visibility.

Transport Malta explained that participation is necessary to improve the conservation status of these threatened seabird species in the Maltese waters.