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Conservationists celebrate return of rare seabird decades after its disappearance: 'It was so thrilling to discover these'

"We couldn't believe it when we found the burrows!"

"We couldn't believe it when we found the burrows!"

Photo Credit: iStock

Off the coast of Chile, a Peruvian diving petrel — a rare seabird known to locals as a "yunco" — has been spotted for the first time in decades, Earth.com reported.

Island Conservation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on restoring island ecosystems and preventing the extinction of vulnerable species, has been leading efforts for several years to make Pajaros Uno Island more hospitable to native species. With the return of the Peruvian diving petrel, it appears their efforts have paid off.

Pajaros Uno Island has been plagued by an invasive rat species that was accidentally introduced by fishermen. The rats have laid waste to native plant species, eating up their seedlings, and native seabird species, eating their eggs.

To address the problem, the Chilean Ministry of the Environment and Island Conservation began working with local communities and Island Conservation in 2020 to manage the rodent populations. 

Conservationists also employed a technique called "social attraction," where they played audio recordings of bird calls to entice the seabirds back to Pajaros Uno Island. That these approaches have already shown such strong results just four years later is encouraging for everyone involved.

"It was so thrilling to discover these nesting pairs so soon after the island was restored. We were preparing dinner and heard the Peruvian diving petrels' call. We quickly took a GPS and a flashlight and ran towards the source of the sound while putting on our shoes. We couldn't believe it when we found the burrows!" María José Vilches, Island Restoration Specialist at Island Conservation, told Earth.com. "Knowing these birds will be safe from predators gives me hope for the survival of the species!"

Though many species around the world have been threatened or even made extinct by human activities, humans also have the power to help. Vulnerable species that have recently been brought back from the brink by human-led efforts include the California red-legged frog and the marsh fritillary butterfly

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