BirdLife: The Magazine Jan-Mar 2018 - Page 20

THE RED LIST Journey to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge Black-legged Kittiwake is the latest Atlantic seabird to suffer sharp population declines – resulting in its uplisting to Vulnerable on the Red List. We chart a course to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge to uncover the possible causes Gui-Xi Young A s the cliché goes, X marks the spot. Scrawled on a map that holds the secrets of the wild open ocean, pinpointing the precise location of untold treasures. Have you dived into the pages of a Jules Verne novel? Is this fabled Atlantis finally found? Are we 20,000 leagues under the sea? At BirdLife, we find science to be stranger, and more spectacular, than fiction. And so it was that with this map in hand, our intrepid European Marine Conservation Officer, Marguerite Tarzia, boarded RRS Discovery this summer and set sail on an epic journey to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The RRS Discovery is part of the United Kingdom’s NERC (Natural Environment Research 20 RRS Discovery by Chou Pesqueira CNP Freire, S.A 2013 Photo National Oceanography Centre 0 Council) research fleet. The expedition, led by University of Glasgow scientist Dr Ewan Wakefield, took a crack team of marine experts (specialising in ocean fronts, seabirds, marine mammals, squid and plankton) from Southampton, UK across the map to the fabled ‘X’: a high seas region of the North-East Atlantic where both cold and warm waters meet and then cross the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This was the first research expedition focused on biodiversity to this specific area and the crew was out to gain a better scientific understanding of this region, hotly tipped by experts to be an ecologist’s paradise. This Mid-Atlantic site was identified by BirdLife birdlife • Jan-Mar 2018