Earthwatch, the international environmental charity, is pleased to announce that it will be launching ten new scientific field research projects in 2005. Earthwatch will be providing funding and volunteers for a variety of multidisciplinary projects that are tackling urgent environmental issues including climate change and the protection of British species.
The new Earthwatch project Storm Petrels over Portugal, lead by Dr. Rob Thomas (Cardiff University), is dedicated to identifying how climate and ocean conditions are affecting the survival behaviour of the European storm petrel during its long migration from southern Africa to the breeding colonies on islands in the North East Atlantic.
Earthwatch volunteers will have the opportunity to capture and study storm petrels outside the breeding season and away from their breeding colonies. They will be fully trained to assemble nets, observe foraging behaviour and ensure the safe release of the birds after data collection.
Dr. Rob Thomas says, ‘This project will give team members a unique insight into the extraordinary life story of this tiny bird. As well as being fun and exciting work, the research is important because it provides information from the marine world about the key ecological question of our time - how will the natural world be affected by climate change? The data that we gather will provide important information on how the whole ocean ecosystem is being disturbed by the climate changes that are currently happening.'
With the support of Earthwatch volunteers, scientist and seal expert Stephen Westcott will be carrying out the first ever comprehensive baseline survey of grey seals on the remote Isles of Scilly in order to identify pressures facing the species. All the information gathered will help to develop recommendations for a future grey seal monitoring regime and for managing pressures on the sites and waters they inhabit.
‘The grey seals give birth to an unknown number of white-coated pups while, at the same time, being subject to the stresses of human disturbance' says Westcott. ‘The challenge for the Earthwatch teams will be to find out where and when they are born, to identify individual seal mothers and to associate them with specific sites. They will also help to examine perceptions of these seals, to create a photo library of individuals and to quantify levels and rhythms of disturbance.'
Dr Roger Mitchell, Chief Scientist at Earthwatch added; ‘Earthwatch is dedicated to furthering environmental research and, by encouraging member of the public to join our projects, we aim to engage the broader community in hands on conservation action'.
Details about Storm Petrels over Portugal and Seals of Scilly can be found in the 2005 Earthwatch Expedition Guide which includes all of the new Earthwatch projects including Octopuses of Costa Rica, Elephants of the Red Volta River Valley, China's Asiatic Black Bear, Whales and Dolphins of the Inner Hebrides, Sugar Plantations of Hawaii, and Galapagos Invasion. For your copy please call +44 (0)1865 318831 or visit www.earthwatch.org/europe
For press information, images and interviews with the scientists, please contact Zoe Gamble, Press Officer, + 44 (0) 1865 318852 / firstname.lastname@example.org
For press information, interviews and images, contact:
Zoe Gamble, Press Officer, Earthwatch, on + 44 (0) 1865 318852 /