Wales' seabirds in 'serious trouble' as populations decline because of bird flu, says RSPB

Gannets are one of the species of seabirds in decline because of bird flu. Credit: PA

Welsh seabirds are in 'serious trouble' according to a new report by the RSPB

The study found that bird flu has completely reversed some of the positive trends in the latest 'seabird census'.

Gannet, Common Tern and Sandwich Tern were three of eleven species that were increasing in Wales before the outbreak of Bird Flu that began in 2021.

The RSPB say Gannets have suffered a 'catastrophic' 54% decline in Wales since 2015, while numbers of Common Terns and Sandwich Terns have also declined by more than 40%.

Wales did hold 10% of Britain and Ireland’s Gannet population meaning these declines have international implications.

Black-headed Gulls, who are already at risk, suffered the biggest decrease of any seabird species in Wales at -77%.

In addition, Lesser Black-backed Gulls have also seen a 24% decline from natural nesting colonies.

The latest wave of bird flu emerged as a new and significant threat to UK seabirds in 2022.

But this isn't the only risk they face. The seas they rely on are impacted by food shortages due to climate change and unsustainable fishing practices.

Drowning after being caught on fishing gear is also a risk.

Julian Hughes, Head of Species for RSPB Cymru said: “urgent" action is needed to save Wales' seabird populations.