The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group is training some of its staff to help wildlife experts with their work as part of the company’s ongoing commitment to protect seabirds on the Isles of Scilly.

As part of a package of support for the SeaBird Recovery Project, the Steamship Group provides free and heavily discounted travel to Scilly for conservation experts from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and project volunteers, and regularly hosts wildlife guides on board Scillonian III ferry crossings, so they can advise visitors to Scilly on how to protect seabirds whilst they are on the islands.

The Group is also directly helping with the SeaBird Recovery Project’s work to help keep some off-islands free of rats, to protect young chicks and boost the numbers of rare seabirds surviving infancy.

Staff on the Isles of Scilly have been given specialist training to support wildlife experts in providing biosecurity at St Mary’s Quay, and manage the installation and monitoring of bait boxes.

Two important species of seabird, Manx Sheerwater and Storm Petrels, are now increasing in numbers on the Isles of Scilly thanks to the SeaBird Recovery Project, which removed 3,500 rats from the off-islands of St Agnes and Gugh in 2014. This was the world’s largest community-based rat removal project, and thanks to the recent efforts of all involved, 43 Manx Shearwater and five Storm Petrels chicks are now thriving on St Agnes and Gugh.

Jaclyn Pearson, Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project Manager, said: “We are delighted that the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group is supporting us with our ongoing biosecurity work, and staff are directly helping on the project,

“Two Steamship Group employees, Mervyn Bird and Lee Sandford, have been receiving ongoing training to work with us and take responsibility for monitoring and managing bait boxes on St Mary’s. With Mervyn and Lee’s help, we are keeping on top of the situation, which is great news.”

Paul St Pierre, RSPB Conservation Officer for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, added: “I want to thank the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group for its support over the last five years by helping us to ensure that the seabirds get the best possible protection.

“The company have not only helped by implementing biosecurity measures on their vessels, but the RSPB have been able to share key conservation messages to visitors about how they can help protect the seabirds on the islands through volunteer wildlife guides on board the Scillonian. The guides also talk about and show people some of the amazing wildlife you see on the journey, enthusing people about these wildlife rich islands and the surrounding waters.

“The company has also supported us by providing discounted tickets to travel to Scilly, allowing us to continue our work with the wildlife on the islands.”

Sharon Sandercock, Marketing and Communications Manager for the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, said: “The SeaBird Recovery Project is a fantastic initiative which has made a real and lasting difference to the vital work to protect these beautiful, rare birds on the Isles of Scilly, and we are very proud to have played a small part in helping those involved to make it a success.

“The ongoing work is just as important as new chicks begin to hatch on St Agnes and Gugh, and we have been very happy to help by training some of our staff members to directly support the wildlife experts on St Mary’s, and take increasing responsibility for managing some of the biosecurity work.”