Thursday, 17 May 2012

Ducks are disappearing from UK seas

WWT calls for international action
May 2012. Numbers of seven species of sea duck have dropped by up to 65% in Northern Europe in the last 15 years, including some that winter off the UK's coasts, particularly long-tailed duck and velvet scoter.



The mysterious nature of sea ducks and the challenges in monitoring their numbers have meant that the situation had gone largely unnoticed.
Moray Firth - Huge decline
The UK coast is one key area for sea ducks during winter. Counts at the Scottish estuary the Moray Firth show that in less than a decade velvet scoters have gone from several thousand to less than 100 and long-tailed ducks have plummeted ten-fold, to fewer than 1,000.
Similar declines were reported from the Baltic Sea at the end of 2011, strongly suggesting that these birds aren't just going elsewhere, they're disappearing. Whilst smaller species like Steller's eider have attracted concern since 2000, some of the more shocking recent declines have been among common and widespread populations like the common eider, which has halved since 1993, and the long-tailed duck, which has declined by over 65%.
The causes remain unknown, however, though the widespread nature of the declines has prompted concern that it is linked to environmental change across much of the arctic and sub-arctic regions where most of these species breed.

Some of the more shocking recent declines have been among common and widespread populations
like long-tailed duck, which has declined by over 65%.


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