Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Galapagos interest in Scottish Seabird Centre live-cam

Gannets at Bass Rock
Image caption The cameras monitor about 150,000 gannets on Bass Rock, as well as other wildlife in the area

Wildlife experts from the Galapagos Islands are in Scotland to see how remote camera technology could help with conservation.

The Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick uses specially-designed cameras to give visitors a close-up view of bird colonies on Bass Rock and the surrounding islands.

The centre hopes to eventually become a hub for worldwide live footage.

The self-cleaning, solar-powered cameras can rotate 360 degrees.

They are designed to withstand all conditions and are operated by visitors at the centre more than three miles away.

The Galapagos Islands, about a thousand kilometres off the coast of South America, are famed for their wildlife.

Experts, including Roberto Maldonado, a conservationist at Galapagos National Park, hope the cameras will provide a close-up view of native species such as the giant tortoise, the marine iguana, and the blue-footed booby.

Image caption Galapagos wildlife experts hope to use remote cameras to capture native species, such at the blue-footed booby

Ian Dunn, chief executive of the Galapagos Conservation Trust, said: "People love the Galapagos, they know the Galapagos. Finding ways to bring that into people's homes in the UK as well as the reverse, taking these images into Galapagos, is a very powerful project."

Tom Brock, chief executive at the Scottish Seabird Centre, has been to the islands to help the experts identify where the cameras should go.

He said: "The Scottish Seabird Centre is very much the world leader in remote viewing cameras. It's wonderful that the Galapagos want to emulate that.

"We wanted to use the latest tech to allow people to see what it was like there without disturbing the wildlife.

"Some of the wildlife there is actually quite closely related to wildlife here - the blue-footed booby is of the same family as gannets.

"Ultimately, as satellite tech develops, we'd like to have live images coming from Galapagos to North Berwick and vice versa. It's a great partnership."

Mr Brock added: "What we're keen to do is look at being a global video hub in North Berwick, with live streamed footage from all over the world, with infra red cameras for night time.

Image caption The cameras allow visitors and scientists to see close-ups of the birds

"As far as we're aware, we're the only ones with this kind of thing in the world - it's cutting edge technology."

Great Barrier Reef

The cameras allow scientists to monitor and study animal behaviour and watch for changes in population.

There are about 150,000 gannets on Bass Rock, with 14 cameras based in North Berwick, monitoring the gannets as well as the wildlife on the Isle of May.

They can zoom in on puffins, seals, razorbills, kittiwakes, as well as visiting pods of dolphins.

The Scottish Seabird Centre hopes that in five years time they will be able to have live links to key wildlife spots around the world such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

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