Top seabirds expert Bryan remembered

Dr Bryan Nelson spent his life working to better understand and protect seabirds
Dr Bryan Nelson spent his life working to better understand and protect seabirds
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A special lecture on the pioneering work being done to secure a future for seabirds across the globe has been in memory of the world’s leading expert on gannets.

Dr Bryan Nelson, who passed away in 2015, spent his life working to better understand and protect seabirds, including carrying out important research in the Galapagos.

To celebrate his world-renowned work, the Scottish Seabird Centre and RSPB Scotland held the lecture at Napier University’s Craiglockhart Campus this week.

Speakers included Professor John Croxall, chair of Birdlife International’s Global Marine Programme.

Around the world, the majority of seabird populations are declining – many to globally-threatened levels. From the puffins and kittiwakes of the British Isles to the albatross and petrels of the southern oceans, seabirds face multiple threats from human activity on land and at sea.

Professor Croxall told how global conservation action for seabirds has evolved from focused efforts by individuals into large and highly innovative projects, including the eradication of invasive predators from remote islands.

He also told how new initiatives are seeking to address the intensifying problems seabirds face.

This is the second Bryan Nelson memorial lecture organised by RSPB Scotland and the Scottish Seabird Centre. The first was held last year, and it is hoped that it will continue to be an annual event.

Bryan was a great supporter of the Scottish Seabird Centre from its inception and served as a trustee until shortly before he died. He was a lifelong RSPB member, and a founding member of RSPB Scotland’s Galloway Local Group.

A renowned global expert on cormorants, boobies and frigate birds, Bryan and his wife, June, famously spent three years in the 1960s living in a small hut on the Bass Rock where his research work helped to unravel the fascinating life history of Britain’s largest seabird, the gannet.

Alex Kinninmonth, head of marine policy at RSPB Scotland, said: “Seabirds are amongst the world’s most threatened group of birds. Although there have been notable successes in dealing with invasive predators and reducing bycatch in commercial fishing gear, huge challenges remain to be overcome if we are to reverse seabird declines here in Scotland and further afield.

“John has a wealth of experience in the field of nature conservation and it was a highly engaging evening.”

Tom Brock OBE, chief executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, said: “Conservation and environmental education are key priorities for the Seabird Centre.

“It is important there is increased awareness and understanding of the major threats worldwide that seabirds are facing as well as where conservation projects are being successful.”