Scarecrows may be outstanding in their field, but now scientists have created an unusual floating version that could help reduce the number of vulnerable seabirds caught by fishing nets. The device, known as a looming-eyes buoy (LEB), and developed in collaboration with engineers from Fishtek Marine, was trialled in Küdema Bay, Saaremaa island, Estonia , on long-tailed ducks. It uses bright eyespots and looming movements to act as a natural deterrent, preventing seabirds from diving into gillnets – vertical nets used in small-scale fisheries in many countries. Publishing their findings in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the scientists – from BirdLife International and the Estonian Ornithological Society – found the device to reduce the numbers of birds by a quarter within a 50-metre radius of the buoy. Yann Rouxel, lead author of the study, and project officer at the BirdLife International marine programme, said: “Unfortunately seabirds can drown if caught up in the nets. We thought if we can reduce the chances of seabirds from diving too close to gillnets, we could prevent deadly interactions from happening.” After 250 hours of observation, the team found LEB devices could reduce long-tailed ducks congregating between 20-30%, compared with traditional fishing […]


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