Page last updated at 12:54 GMT, Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Bird autopsy beamed into schools

Fulmar autopsy
Scientists have beamed live footage into schools of a fulmar autopsy

Hundreds of pupils across Scotland have watched leading scientists perform a bird post mortem beamed live into their classrooms from East Lothian.

The procedure was shown on GLOW, Scotland's national education intranet, digitally linking schools in Scotland.

The Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick was the venue for the autopsy, led by Dr Jan van Franeker, who carried out the post mortem on a fulmar.

It was beamed into classrooms from 1400 GMT on Wednesday.

The move was part of the Save the North Sea project which aims to raise awareness of the damage caused by 20,000 tons of litter dumped every year.

Dr Franeker is a senior scientist at the Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem studies in the Netherlands and he took pupils through the dissection and findings before hosting a question and answer session afterwards.

Not all schools would be able to visit the centre or talk directly to the scientists involved but Glow provides the tools for schools to take part, no matter where they live
Marie Dougan
GLOW

Many fulmars are killed every year by swallowing plastic dumped in the sea. About 96% of the birds are found to have plastic in their stomachs and many die from suffocation or become weak and unable to feed because of it.

Pupils studying biology were able to see live on GLOW how scientists are researching what is happening in the North Sea and how they are using the findings to protect sealife to find ways of reducing the amount of marine litter.

School pupils from 22 local authorities in Scotland had the chance to view the event live online.

It was also recorded and is being made available for teachers and pupils to access again if they want to revisit it, show people who missed the event or even access it at home to help with homework later on.

Marie Dougan, GLOW progamme director, said: "The Scottish Seabird Centre is involved in fantastic groundbreaking work that provides an ideal opportunity for teachers to discuss science, biology, environmental change and citizenship in the context of real work that is on-going in Scotland at the moment.

"Not all schools would be able to visit the centre or talk directly to the scientists involved but Glow provides the tools for schools to take part, no matter where they live."

Emily Dodd, education officer for the Scottish Seabird Centre, said: "This is a fantastic way to interest students in Scotland's wildlife and hopefully encourage them to look after our precious environment."

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