jueves, 21 de julio de 2011

Spanish Atlantic seawatching most productive cruise cancelled. Help needed

Wilson's Storm Petrel (Oceanites oceanicus) off Cariño, August 2008 © Juan Sagardía.
Featured in August 2008 page of Rare Birds in Spain with other observations

In the recent years, every August chronicle of Rare Birds in Spain has been crowded with stunning records and photos of rare seabirds recorded off Estaca de Bares and Ortegal capes. One of the best, if not the best, pelagic seawatch in W Europe even outnumbering in target species and numbers those reference venues from Britai, is about to dissapear forever. The 'Aula do Mar' service offered by Cariño town council, in the A Coruña province, Galicia, just in the Estaca de Bares and Ortegal capes area (NW Spain corner) has been cancelled by the new government of the Cariño town council.

Despite arguments on economic sustainability of the service have been argued, it is not clear if the benefits coming from touristic impact, knowledge of the 'Cariño' name abroad and putting this small 4800 inhabitants village in the map can outnumber the forementioned obstacles outlined by the new local authorities. In fact in its webpage, the town council broadcasts their area as an outstanding birdwatching area:

'Every year, when the end of the summer is close, the hundreds of thousands of seabirds that nest year in northern Europe cliffs, migrate south in front of Ortegal Cape´s marine cliffs. Shearwaters, gannets, petrels, gulls, terns, skuas, auks and seaducks offer ornithologists a brilliant natural show, which can be enjoyed not only from land, but also from the sea, due to a fishing boat, Aula do Mar, dedicated to ornithologist trips.'

c.f. Fea's Petrel (Pterodroma feae) off Cariño, September 2009 © Gorka Ocio. One of the 1sts for Spain
Featured in September 2009 page of Rare Birds in Spain with other observations

Wilson's Storm Petrel (Oceanites oceanicus) off Cariño, September 2009 © Miguel Rouco.
Featured in September 2009 page of Rare Birds in Spain with other observations

Madeiran Storm Petrel (Oceanodroma castro) off Cariño, August 2010 © Antonio Gutiérrez.
Featured in August 2010 page of Rare Birds in Spain with other observations

Long-tailed Skua (Stercorarius longicaudus off Cariño, August 2010 © Antonio Gutiérrez.
Featured in August 2010 page of Rare Birds in Spain with other observations

As visible above from these sample images taken from Rare Birds in Spain website in the recent years, the diversity of scarce (and rare) species found in this area is outstanding. Cariño is not only being a major viewpoint for seabirds (and cetaceans) but also an incredible area for putting more light into the status of some poorly known European seabirds and their status in S Europe.

Soon after having announced the success of reserves for 2011 season (including birdwatchers coming from abroad, see press release here -in Spanish-), the service has been cancelled. No more Pterodroma, Oceanites or longicaudus encounters. Major concern has been expressed by different associations and particulars and a facebook group as an appeal for Aula do Mar coming back to their activities has been launched. Also, some claims to protest to the Cariño town council via their webpage here have been suggested.

In any case if this service dissappears, one of the best seawatching destinations in Europe, if not the best, will dissappear because of local decissions affecting what certainly represents an improvement for the whole European birdwatching community.

Resumen. El crucero de observación de aves marinas más productivo del Atlántico español cancelado. Ayuda requerida. Se ha cancelado el servicio del barco 'Aula do Mar' de Cariño, A Coruña. La decisión ha sido tomada por el nuevo equipo municipal del ayuntamiento aduciendo motivos económicos. Por contra se anuncia aún el servicio en su página web como uno de los puntos de interés del municipio y también se congratula por el éxito de las reservas obtenidas en 2011, en estos momentos canceladas. La cancelación afecta clientes nacionales y europeos y diferentes especies de aves marinas raras, escasas y en cualquier caso poco conocidas dejarán de ser observadas. En los últimos años se han producido interesantes observaciones que han ayudado a aclarar el papel de la zona de Bares - Ortegal durante la migración de aves marinas escasas o muy raras como las de las fotografias, publicadas en Rare Birds in Spain por sus autores. Se ha creado un grupo de facebook pidiendo al reanudación de las actividades del Aula do Mar y se sugiere que si se está en desacuerdo se manifieste su opinión al ayuntamiento de Cariño por las vias que existen al respecto.