Europe’s rarest seabird could be extinct within the next 60 years, experts warn, after conducting new analysis.
The Balearic shearwater is in urgent need of help, with most of its population in danger of drowning in fishing nets and lines, scientists have said.
The birds – which breed in the Balearic Islands – sometimes stop off in British waters at it migrates north.
It was only a couple of days ago now that as part of the National Trust’s largest ever wildlife survey that the first ever recorded sighting of the seabird was made at Blakeney on the Norfolk coast.
It can sometimes be seen far out to sea off the coast of Cornwall, Devon, Dorsey and west Wales, but a sighting off the East coast of the UK is more unusual, apparently.
However, research shows that the global population may not be sustainable in the long term- with only 3,000 breeding pairs predicted to be left.
According to findings published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, its main threat is becoming trapped in fishing gear. Other threats include being hunting by cats and other small mammals.
Speaking to BBC News, co-researcher on the study Professor Tim Guilford of the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford, said:
The survival of adults from one year to the next and especially of young adults is much lower than we thought. The species is unsustainable – it is on the road to extinction.
Professor Guildford went on to say that changes to gear ‘could make a massive difference’ to the seabird’s chances.
It is currently classified as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of species.