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 K├╝dema 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