Thursday, 28 September 2006

Disappearing species.

Who's Darwin Finch?
Right now in the southern ocean an albatross could be dying. In fact, on average, every 5 minutes another albatross is hooked and drowned.
Each year around 100,000 are wiped out. Consequently 19 of the 21 species of albatross are facing extinction. The chilling fact is that, like the dodo, children may soon be reading about the albatross as yet another example of a tragic, permanent loss.
An albatross can live for 60 years. Once they've met their mate most stay together for life and have only one chick every one or two years. So as more and more birds are killed there are ever fewer mating pairs left to replenish numbers.
The problem is longline fishing. To catch valuable fish such as tuna, huge fishing vessels set lines up to 130 km long bristling with baited hooks. The albatross see the bait, become hooked and drown.
An estimated 1 billion hooks are set each year by the world's longline fishing fleets. This has made the traditional feeding grounds dangerous places to be for all sea birds.
No-one benefits from this slaughter. A drowned, lifeless albatross is of no value to the fishermen. They would much prefer their hooks caught the fish for which they were intended.