Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Bass Rock world’s biggest northern gannet colony

THE Scottish Seabird Centre in East Lothian says that a count of northern gannets has shown that the Bass Rock – 2.5 miles from North Berwick – is now the world's largest colony.

In 2014, independent counts found 75,000 apparently occupied sites, an increase of 24% since counts were made in 2009.

Sarah Wanless at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said: ‘Our long-term research on North Sea seabirds aims to understand how species such as the gannet will cope with the rapid pace of environmental change. This is our fifth census of the Bass Rock in the last 30 years.

‘It is particularly heartening to see them doing so well when so many other seabirds in Scotland appear to be in trouble. However, Bass Rock is a small island, and the gannets have now filled most of the available nesting habitat. The colony now has only very limited capacity for further increase.’

Tom Brock, chief executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, said: ‘Scotland is of international importance for seabirds, and is home to more than 60% of the world's population of Northern gannets. Every year, the Bass Rock turns brilliant white with the sheer number of gannets crammed onto the Rock and not, as some people think, with their guano.

‘While this is fantastic news, we cannot ignore the fact that although gannet colonies are currently thriving, other seabird species are not. Many seabirds are now under threat, and as a conservation and education charity we will continue to work in partnership with other organizations across Scotland to undertake further research and appropriate action, where we can, to conserve Scotland's amazing wildlife for future generations.’

Visitors to the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick - - can control interactive live cameras and zoom in on the gannet action on the Bass Rock. The centre's boat trips to Bass Rock will start at Easter.

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Picture Credit: "Bass Rock Gannets_5" & "Bass Rock Castle lighthouse" by Lisa Jarvis via Wikimedia Commons.

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