Petrel power brings Blue Turtle to Bermuda

 

The 2013 winner of JNCC’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies Nature Conservation Award is announced

 

9 July 2014

 

Winner of the 2013 Blue Turtle Award Jeremy Madeiros with Cahow chick © Jeremy Madeiros

Jeremy Madeiros has worked in nature conservation in Bermuda for the last 23 years demonstrating long-term commitment to all aspects of the islands’ environment. But it is his dedication over the last 14 years in helping conserve one of the world’s most endangered seabirds which has seen him be the worthy winner of JNCC’s Blue Turtle Award 2013. The Bermuda Petrel, once abundant throughout the archipelago, was thought extinct for over three centuries. The eerie night cries of the seabird, commonly known as the Cahow, stopped early seafarers from settling on the islands which they thought were inhabited by devils. The dramatic rediscovery of 18 nesting pairs in 1951 made the Cahow a 'Lazarus species' - a species found to be alive after having been considered extinct.

 

Jeremy began the visionary Cahow Translocation Project in 2004 after recognising that the greatest threat to this nocturnal ground-nesting bird was erosion and storm damage at their nesting sites. From 2004-2008, as terrestrial conservation officer for the Bermuda Department of Conservation Services, he translocated 102 near–fledged chicks from their original nests to artificial burrows on Nonsuch Island Nature Reserve, located off the south-east coast of Bermuda. Jeremy spent many nights away from his family, working in very difficult conditions, to hand-feed the chicks until they were ready to fledge. This program has enabled the breeding population to begin a slow but accelerating increase from 18 pairs producing eight chicks annually to a new record number last year of 105 breeding pairs producing 53 successfully fledged chicks. In 2013, following on from the success of this project, Jeremy began a second four-year Translocation project to establish another colony on Nonsuch Island. The Cahow is a slow breeder, with the females only laying one egg per season, and spends most of its adult life out on the open seas feeding on small fish, shrimps and squid. At three to five years old birds return to their former nesting place and begin breeding, mating for life.

 

On hearing of his win Jeremy said: "I am very surprised and honoured to have received this award, which I would like to accept on behalf of all of my fellow researchers, workers and volunteers, who have provided assistance and support for this challenging and demanding project. Special thanks to Nicholas Carlile and David Priddell of the New South Wales Department of the Environment and Climate Change, for special inspiration, training and instruction, without which the translocation program could not have taken place. It is a privilege to work with such a fascinating species and symbol of Bermuda, thought to be extinct for so long, but which has proven to be such a tough survivor, providing hope for other endangered species around the world."

 

This year the secret life of the national bird of Bermuda will be brought to the world online via a burrow-mounted video camera, and school children visiting the island can now see a live Cahow up close during some stages of their nesting season – an opportunity that was unheard of before. Recently a Cahow was spotted off the west coast of Ireland from the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Voyager.

 

JNCC’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies Programme Manager Tony Weighell, one of the Award’s judges, said: "Jeremy has shown outstanding personal committment to the conservation of the Bermuda Petrel. The award recognises not only his committment but the undoubted support of friends and family which made it possible for him to spend many nights working under difficult conditions hand feeding chicks.”

 

Notes to Editors

1.  The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is the statutory adviser to Government on UK and international nature conservation, on behalf of the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside, Natural Resources Wales, Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage. Its work contributes to maintaining and enriching biological diversity, conserving geological features and sustaining natural systems.

 

2.  One of JNCC’s priorities is to provide advice on the conservation of biodiversity in the UK’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.

 

The award was presented based on the following criteria: nature conservation benefit/added value; innovation; community involvement; and links to a specific project, or demonstrating long-term commitment and dedication.

 

Any individual, or group of individuals (including governments) from and working on an Overseas Territory or Crown      Dependency, can be nominated.

 

3.  The work or project must have been in place for over a year, demonstrated innovation and have made a real difference. In addition to a trophy, the Award gives £500 to the individual or group, and a £1,000 contribution to an Overseas Territory or Crown Dependency nature conservation project of their choice.

 

4.  The United Kingdom’s 14 Overseas Territories are a diverse grouping. They range from the tiny Pacific island of Pitcairn with 47 inhabitants and a fragile subsistence economy based on fishing, horticulture, and the sale of handicrafts, to Bermuda just north of the Caribbean, which has a population of more than 62,000 and is one of the world's major financial centres.  They also include the Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus, which are military bases.

 

The UKOTs have an amazing wealth of biodiversity.  Of globally threatened species identified in the 2009 IUCN Red List, 74 critically endangered species occur in the UK Overseas Territories (compared to 14 in mainland UK) along with 50 endangered species (7 in mainland UK) and 167 vulnerable species (41 in the mainland UK).  Many of these species are endemic and so are found nowhere else in the world.

 

The three Crown Dependencies are possessions of The Crown in Right of the United Kingdom, as opposed to overseas territories or colonies of the United Kingdom. They comprise the Channel Island bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey and the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. Being independently administered jurisdictions, none forms part of the United Kingdom or of the European Union.

 

7.  For interviews and further information (including images to support this release) please call JNCC’s Communications Team on 01733 866886, or email: