Putting googly eyes on buoys can save seabirds

Adding a pair of google eyes to a buoy can help deter seabirds from getting tangled in fishing gear. Gillnets particularly damage 400,000 seabirds a year. The birds can smell the fish inside the nets from miles away. But when they reach the net, they can get tangled in it and drown. In a recent study, researchers tested out if putting a pair of looming eyes on a pole attached to a buoy would deter birds from going to an area. The idea was that if it worked, the devices could be put up in gillnet fisheries. The eyes worked. In Küdema Bay in Estonia, the long-tailed ducks (Clangula hyemalis) stayed farther away from buoys with eyes on them compared to traditional buoys.

Researchers placed looming eyes on a buoy and attached it to a pole to deter seabirds.
Credit: Royal Society Open Science

Read the study in the Royal Society Open Science and read an article on the device in the New York Times.

Header Image: Researchers tested out their looming eyes buoys on long-tailed ducks like this one. Credit: Ron Knight