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Short-tailed shearwaters migration protection program for 2023 has Bass Coast Shire Council partnering with Dark Sky So Shearwater Fly

Bass Coast Shire Council partners with others to protect migrating Short-tailed shearwaters in 2023 program, aiming to prevent injuries on roads.

By news@gippsland - 21st April 2023 - Back to News

Bass Coast Shire Council is a proud partner of the 2023 Shearwater Program launching this week alongside Phillip Island Nature Parks, Regional Roads Victoria, AusNet Services, Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, the Victorian Ornithological Research Group and our local community. This important initiative aims to protect the Short-tailed shearwater, a mid-sized migratory bird that travels to Australia annually to breed. Each autumn, the shearwaters embark on a 16,000 km round-trip, flying from Australia to Japan, via Siberia to Alaska, and back again in under four weeks!

Support the migration of the short-tailed Shearwater by following live updates, turning off your outdoor lights at night, driving carefully and reporting sick or injured wildlife

Support the migration of the short-tailed Shearwater by following live updates, turning off your outdoor lights at night, driving carefully and reporting sick or injured wildlife

Breeding endangered shearwaters

Shearwaters breed on Australia's southern coastline during summer, then in April adults leave for Alaska, leaving behind their young chicks. During the chicks' training period as they learn to fly, they often land on roads around Phillip Island, drawn to streetlights and flat road surfaces that they mistake for the moon on the water. This results in injury or worse.

Shearwater program

To prevent the birds from being attracted to the lights on the San Remo bridge, AusNet Services will switch off the lights for up to 10 nights during the peak departure period.

Phillip Island Nature Parks has already installed advanced technology and environmentally sensitive WE-EF Lighting illumination for the Penguin Parade Visitor Centre car park, which has resulted in fewer shearwaters landing around the carpark.

Support the migration

There are three key actions you can take to support the short-tailed shearwater migration.

Follow live updates

While the shearwater chicks typically begin their migration at the end of April, the exact flight times are highly dependent on weather conditions. To get live updates so you can help join our Dark Sky so Shearwater Fly Facebook event.

Turn off your outdoor lights at night

Outdoor lights can attract young shearwaters. Turn them off to help the birds stay in their natural habitat, away from human-inhabited places, where they are more likely to get run over.

Drive carefully

Drive more slowly than usual - speed limits will be reduced to 40 kms. Keep an eye out for birds on the roads. They often end up exploring flat areas such as roads, so be prepared to stop at short notice.

Report sick or injured wildlife

To report sick or injured wildlife on Phillip Island, contact the Nature Parks on 5951 2800 and select Option 2. This phone line is open 7.30am to 4pm daily. If it's after hours, call Wildlife emergency response line on (03) 8400 7300 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or use this link to report online.

Supporting the program

To support the shearwaters during their migration, council is turning off our lights at:

  • Newhaven Recreation Reserve and playground
  • San Remo foreshore
  • Cape Woolamai reserve and Summerlands
  • San Remo's pine tree
  • The Phillip Island Visitor Information Centre at Newhaven

We are also helping educate residents and visitors at Phillip Island Visitor Information Centre, where staff are all fully educated, available to answer questions at any time, plus lights will also be off. Learn more at 'The Short-tailed Shearwater Great Migration' page.

Pictures from Phillip Island Notice Board Facebook page.


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