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Increase knowledge of the distribution and movements of seabirds and use it for conservation!

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Hiroyuki Tanoi
freelance、citizen scientist
Pledged: 2,014,710 JPY
Target Amount: 1,000,000 JPY
NEXT GOAL: 2,000,000 JPY
Funded
201 %
Supporters
135
Days left
1 days
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Hiroyuki Tanoi

Born in Tokyo, Japan. I have had a strong interest in living things since I was a child, and after a childhood of enjoying catching fish and insects, I began to develop an interest in birds. When I was in elementary school, I observed sandpipers and plovers on tidal flats and went to city parks to watch migratory birds, improving my bird-watching skills. When I opened a book I bought when I was a junior high school student, Seabirds (Harrison 1983), I became fascinated by seabirds, and I have been observing them on ferries and chartered boats for the past 25 years.
I feel a sense of urgency about the recent decline in seabirds, and I have temporarily stopped working this year because I want to observe more seabirds to study the current situation and to take action for their conservation. Together with my wife, I am focusing on seabird research based on observation.

What do you hope to accomplish through your research?

This project aims to clarify the distribution of seabirds around Japan and to then lead to development of more effective conservation activities.

Seabirds are birds that spend most of their lives at sea, and unless you are an ocean-going researcher or birdwatcher, you will not have many opportunities to see them. However, despite their relative isolation, many seabirds are actually endangered due to the impact of human activities on their breeding grounds and also at sea. Many species are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as endangered species. In some other countries, in addition to research and conservation activities at breeding grounds, information on the distribution of rare species at sea is being gathered and analyzed using geotracking technology enabled by continuous GPS data logging. Of course, in Japan, research and conservation activities are also being conducted at breeding grounds, and there is growing interest in preserving the marine environment, including seabirds, through the selection of Marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (Marine IBAs). However, information on the distribution of seabirds in offshore areas other than breeding grounds is limited, and in particular, information on the distribution of rare species has hardly been studied at all.

In order to conserve seabirds, it is necessary to protect both breeding grounds and offshore distribution areas, but there is so little information about the offshore distribution of rare species in Japan today, that I feel a sense of urgency. Therefore, my research aims to clarify the distribution information of rare species and contribute to the conservation of important open ocean areas.

What approach are you using to try to achieve this?

This is a very steady and simple method, but it is based on "observation" to reveal the distribution of seabirds.

Clarifying the distribution of species begins with observation, although in recent years, some studies have used geotracking and environmental DNA. Of these methods, there are three reasons why I prefer observation.

First, we can obtain not only distribution data but also secondary information. Through observation, we can learn what additional species were involved and how they behaved. In addition, there are many species of seabirds for which little is known about their morphological information, such as characteristics and individual differences to identify the species. Even less tends to be known about behavioral traits, such as flight style, foraging habits, etc. Both morphological and behavioral information can be obtained via direct observation, the latter uniquely so. For example, I was researching the distribution of a small seabird called the Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel and discovered a foraging area in the Sea of Japan in Kyoto Prefecture. Observing many individuals, I found that there is more individual variation in the morphology of this species than was known, and that the way it flew helped distinguish it from similar species. We also learned that although they were thought to be solitary, they sometimes form flocks of more than 200 birds.

Second, I believe that I can conduct activities that are based in the local community. By conducting observations in a particular area and finding out what kinds of seabirds are there, I believe that I can get people in that area interested in seabirds and help encourage their conservation.

To summarize, my goals are to clarify information on seabird distribution, determine foraging areas that are important for conservation, and document additional morphological characteristics important for identifying species.

What is the research topic you will be conducting for this project?

This time, we will focus on the Ogasawara Islands, mainly to study the distribution of Bryan’s Shearwater.

Bryan’s Shearwater was described as a new species in 2011, and found breeding only on the Higashijima of the Ogasawara Islands. The population is estimated to be less than 250 individuals, indicating that it is a rare species facing extinction. This species has been observed on the ferry route between Tokyo and Chichijima of the Ogasawara Islands, only a few times a year, making it a very difficult species to observe. Furthermore, there have been almost no observations of this species outside of the regular ferry routes, so it is not clear where it is distributed in the ocean.

Therefore, in order to clarify the distribution of this species around the Ogasawara Islands during the breeding and non-breeding seasons, this project will take a boat to the offshore areas of Higashijima and Muko-jima Islands during the winter (breeding season) and summer (non-breeding season) to search for this species. It is necessary to observe as many individuals as possible in order to clarify the distribution, morphological characteristics, and ecology of this species. Therefore, we will focus on past observations of this species and the seafloor topography, and select several sites where there is a high possibility of observing this species.

Why we need your support

Seabirds must still be considered little-known species. However, it is known that some of these birds are in danger of extinction due to human activities. Through my own research, I strongly hope to share with you the fascination of seabirds and to help their conservation in any way I can. I hope that this challenge will provide an opportunity not only for my research, but also for you to learn more about seabirds.

Beyond this specific challenge, I will continue to study seabird habitats in various other locations over time. These studies will be continued with the help of people we know who regularly sail with me and help me with my research, as well as with the support of overseas researchers and birdwatchers with whom I exchange information on seabirds. I will share the results of my research on my website and SNS. We will also accumulate data and aim to publish papers and produce books in the future.

Funds raised will be used to cover the cost of travel to the Ogasawara Islands, accommodation in the islands, and chartering a boat. I believe that by making my research known to as many people as possible, I will not only be able to support my own activities, but also to expand the movement for the conservation of seabirds. Thank you in advance for your support.

Recommender's comment

Dr. Masayuki Senzaki
Faculty of Environmental Earth Science, Hokkaido University. Assistant Professor

Hiroyuki Tanoi has become the world's most experienced and successful observer of Bryan’s Shearwater at sea. He has also participated in surveys of rare seabirds at sea around the world and has developed some of the field's best seabird surveying techniques. But information on the offshore ecology of Bryan’s Shearwater is still fragmentary, which makes effective conservation strategies difficult to develop. With Hiroyuki’s passion, commitment, experience, and skills, new knowledge of the offshore distribution of this species will surely be revealed piece by piece. Hiroyuki has already demonstrated his determination to give this project all of the time and attention it requires by leaving his job. Why don't you contribute to the elucidation of the ecology of this species by supporting him?

Dr. Robert L. Flood
Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town Research Associates

Procellariiformes, or Tubenoses, is an order of seabirds comprising largely pelagic species that breed at remote locations such as oceanic islands. Thus, many species are inaccessible and poorly known. Research indicates that over fishing, pollution at sea, and climate change are placing undue pressure on vulnerable and endangered species of tubenose. Japanese territorial waters are home to a number of threatened species, including Bryan's Shearwater. More needs to be known about their lives at sea in order to recommend appropriate conservation measures to secure their future. One important method is at-sea survey work, to establish the range and distribution of species. A part of this is to learn how to separate cryptic species. The survey work planned by Hiroyuki Tanoi is extremely important in this endeavour.

Dr. Kazuto Kawakami
Department of Wildlife Biology, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute. (Team) Leader

I am an ornithologist. I have been working with my colleagues to discover and study Bryan’s Shearwater. However, this bird has such a low population that it could become extinct at any time, and its ecology and distribution are full of mysteries. Hiroyuki is not a professional researcher, but he has carefully and passionately observed seabirds and left many valuable scientific records. He has also accumulated information on this rare bird which begins to unravel its mysteries. As this research progresses, we will be able to obtain basic information essential for conservation. Please join his project to protect Bryan’s Shearwater!

Project timeline

Date Plans
February 2023 Surveying in Ogasawara
August 2023 Surveying in Ogasawara
February 2024 Surveying in Ogasawara
August 2024 Online special debriefing session, conference presentation

Pledge Rewards

1,100 JPY tax included
Featured : Thank You Message

We will send you a thank you message via email.

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Thank You Message

Support this project

32 supporters are supporting with this reward. (No quantity limit)

5,500 JPY tax included
Featured : Your name will be listed in the survey report

Your name will appear in a research report contributed to the ACADEMIST journal.

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Thank You Message / Your name will be listed in the survey report

Support this project

36 supporters are supporting with this reward. (No quantity limit)

11,000 JPY tax included
Featured : Online special debriefing session

We will hold an online lecture to report the results and you will join the online lecture.

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Thank You Message / Your name will be listed in the survey report / Online special debriefing session

Support this project

35 supporters are supporting with this reward. (No quantity limit)

33,000 JPY tax included
Featured : An original designed T-shirt

We will send you a T-shirts designed by Yoshitaka Minowa, a well-known scientific illustrator and author of the Handbook of Seabirds in Japan.

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Thank You Message / Your name will be listed in the survey report / Online special debriefing session / An original designed T-shirt

Support this project

24 supporters are supporting with this reward. (No quantity limit)

55,000 JPY tax included
Featured : Survey video

We will make a digest video of the survey and the seabirds we observed.

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Thank You Message / Your name will be listed in the survey report / Online special debriefing session / An original designed T-shirt / Survey video

Support this project

4 supporters are supporting with this reward. (No quantity limit)

110,000 JPY tax included
Featured : Participation in a seabird survey in Sendai Bay (day trip)

We will take you on one seabird (murrelet) survey in Sendai Bay in winter. We will be aboard the ship for about 7 hours (from 7:00 to 14:00). The schedule will be announced individually, but may be postponed depending on weather and sea conditions. (You will be required to cover your own transportation and accommodation expenses to and from the site. You are responsible for your own insurance.)

return details

Thank You Message / Your name will be listed in the survey report / Online special debriefing session / An original designed T-shirt / Survey video / Participation in a seabird survey in Sendai Bay (day trip)

Support this project

4 supporters are supporting with this reward. (No quantity limit)

550,000 JPY tax included
Featured : Participation in seabird survey in Ogasawara (4 days trip)

We will take you on one seabird survey in Ogasawara. You can choose one of the summer or winter surveys. In summer, you will spend 3 nights and 4 days on the boat, and in winter, you will spend 4 days for a day trip. Due to the long survey hours, only those who are in good health and physically fit will be accepted. The schedule will be announced individually, but may be postponed depending on weather and sea conditions. (You will be required to cover your own transportation and accommodation expenses to and from the site. You are responsible for your own insurance.)

return details

Thank You Message / Your name will be listed in the survey report / Online special debriefing session / An original designed T-shirt / Survey video / Participation in a seabird survey in Sendai Bay (day trip) / Participation in seabird survey in Ogasawara (4 days trip)

Support this project

0 supporters are supporting with this reward. (No quantity limit)

Supporters will be charged the funding amount only if the project reaches the funding goal (JPY 1,000,000) before 17:00 on December 08, 2022 (JST: GMT+9).
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Thank You Message / Your name will be listed in the survey report

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Thank You Message / Your name will be listed in the survey report / Online special debriefing session

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33,000 JPY(tax included)

Thank You Message / Your name will be listed in the survey report / Online special debriefing session / An original designed T-shirt

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Thank You Message / Your name will be listed in the survey report / Online special debriefing session / An original designed T-shirt / Survey video

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Thank You Message / Your name will be listed in the survey report / Online special debriefing session / An original designed T-shirt / Survey video / Participation in a seabird survey in Sendai Bay (day trip)

4 supporters back
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Support this project
550,000 JPY(tax included)

Thank You Message / Your name will be listed in the survey report / Online special debriefing session / An original designed T-shirt / Survey video / Participation in a seabird survey in Sendai Bay (day trip) / Participation in seabird survey in Ogasawara (4 days trip)

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