Holy Cahow...once 'extinct'
bird spotted off Ireland
ONE of the world's rarest birds – once thought extinct
for over 300 years - has been spotted off the coast of
The Bermuda petrel, better known as the Cahow, was seen
by crew members of the Celtic Voyager – the Irish Marine
Institute's research vessel.
The "astonishing" sighting of the endangered seabird
took place off the coast of Co Kerry on Monday.
Within hours news of the
sighting had reached Bermuda and was confirmed by the
island's official bird conservation group, the Bermuda
The society confirmed the report through data emitted by
the bird's electronic geolocator.
The medium-sized Cahow is the national bird of Bermuda
and once featured on the island's original one and ten
It is currently being "laboriously brought back from the
brink" by conservationists with only about 180 of the
species known to exist.
The Bermuda petrel, better known as
ground-nester, the bird was wiped out during the 1600s
when colonisation of the North Atlantic island
introduced species such as boars, cats, dogs and rats.
It is thought the Cahow, which mates for life, had
become virtually extinct by the 1620s until intrepid
ornithologists discovered 18 surviving pairs nesting on
the island in 1951. The dramatic discovery led to the
appointment of Bermuda's first conservation officer.
The RV Celtic Voyager crew including Niall Keogh and
Ryan Wilson-Parr, spotted the bird as they undertook a
survey of cetaceans and seabirds some 170 nautical miles
north west of Slea Head, Co Kerry.
They filed a report with
the Irish Birding website which noted: "It was on view
for a maximum of one minute before heading off in a
south east direction."
BirdWatch Ireland development officer Niall Hatch
described the sighting as "astonishing" and "the bird of
a lifetime". He said it was the first official sighting
of the bird in Irish waters.
"This is a species that had been thought extinct for
over 300 years until its dramatic rediscovery in 1951
and since then it has been the subject of a remarkably
conservation project," said Mr Hatch.
“I believe that one was electronically tracked far
offshore a few years ago but it wasn’t actually seen by
anyone and so isn’t on the Irish list.”
The Bermuda petrel, better known as the
The rare Irish sighting was
confirmed in a Facebook post by the Bermuda Audubon
Society. The charity told its followers: "Cahow spotted
off Ireland (Monday)! Proof of data received from
geolocators attached to a number of Cahows."