Fulmar monitoring: guidance

As part of its work on marine litter, Marine Scotland is supporting the OSPAR coordinated monitoring of plastic particles in fulmars stomachs. Guidance on how to help with the monitoring if you see a fulmar.

Fulmar research

Pictures of fulmar bird species

As part of its work on marine litter, Marine Scotland is supporting the OSPAR coordinated monitoring of plastic particles in fulmars stomachs. To help with the monitoring, if you see a fulmar, you can help:

Is the bird you have found a Fulmar?

Fulmars look similar to a gull but are slightly larger and have straighter, stiffer wings. The Northern Fulmars often have white heads and undersides; grey wings and grey-yellow beaks. The beak is short and stout with nasal tubes on the upper mandible.

If the bird you have found is a Fulmar:

Any dead Fulmar found should be collected and kept safe from scavengers.

Unconfirmed bird species or birds which are decomposing can still be collected. Just be sure to include this information on the Collection Information note.

Collect the bird using a plastic bag, taking care to handle the bird using the plastic bag and not your bare hands.  If possible collect bird wearing gloves or clean your hands with antibacterial hand gel after handling. There is a short instruction video for how to keep your hands clean when collecting dead fulmars on YouTube.

Knot the bag and immediately note (using pencil) the location where the bird was found, ideally using GPS co-ordinates or if not possible record the location where the Fulmar was found as best as you can. Additional information such as the date, time and finder of the bird should also be noted alongside any supplementary information such as if the bird was entangled in a net or other indicators for cause of death.

Place the first plastic bag (with the Fulmar) and the Collection information note into a second plastic bag and securely knot. This will ensure that the Collection Information is always present with the correct bird. This double bagging procedure prevents fouling or wetting of the Collection Information note, while also preventing the corpse from drying out in the freezer.

What to do if there is more than one Fulmar:

Double bag each Fulmar as above. This will prevent cross contamination if the birds’ plumages have been contaminated with oil or other contaminants and ensure that each of the recovered birds has an individual note detailing the Collection Information (location of bird, finder, date, time and any supplementary information).

Returning from the beach:

Ideally, immediately place the collected bird/s in a freezer of -16ºC or below.

If no freezer immediately available, keep the collected bird/s as cool and dark as possible until you can freeze them.

Contact either Ewan Edwards (Ewan.Edwards@gov.scot) or Kelly McIntosh (Kelly.McIntosh@gov.scot) at the Marine Laboratory, Aberdeen to let them know that you have found some beached Fulmars. If you have a large collection of birds it may be possible to organise a single collection from your location.

Only birds which are completely frozen should be sent to the Marine Laboratory. Please do not send partially frozen or non-frozen birds.

Please package frozen birds in a sturdy box clearly labelled  “Biological Specimen” to:

Ewan Edwards/ Kelly McIntosh
Fulmar Study
Marine Scotland Science
Scottish Government
Marine Laboratory
375 Victoria Road
AB11 9DB

Please include a note inside the box providing a summary of who the sender is, your contact details, where the birds were found and how many birds are present.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch with either Ewan or Kelly on one of the above email addresses.

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