The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is calling on seaside wildlife photographers to help build a picture of falling seabird populations

Image © Andy Hay (rspbimages.com)

The call forms part of a campaign for Marine Protected Areas to be designated in order to tackle threats to kittiwakes, guillemots and arctic terns.

Numbers of kittiwakes have declined across the UK, with their numbers having fallen by 86 per cent over the past 25 years in northern Scotland.

Guillemots and arctic terns have also suffered serious declines over the same period.

Research indicates that the threat to the bird populations is caused by a decline in sandeels, which are one of their main food sources. This is believed to be caused by rising sea temperatures.

Campaigners are asking anyone who might have taken photos in kittiwake strongholds, such as Orkney, Shetland,to look through their images and see if they have pictures of thriving seabird colonies.

The hope is that by collecting images of thriving seabird colonies from the past and contrasting them with images of the same areas today, the campaign will be able to illustrate the scale of the problem.

Euan Dunn, RSPB seabird expert, said: ‘Although we have statistics and graphs showing declines, we need to drive the point home to decision makers by showing them real images of how our once thriving seabird strongholds have slowly but surely been turning into ghost cities.

‘If you have some images gathering dust in a loft or sitting on a hard drive that you think would help, please let us know – they could make a big difference.’

If you are able to help with photographs of colonies of kittiwakes, guillemots or arctic terns taken before 2000, email lostseabirds@rspb.org.uk.