7 Mar 2008

Rare Pacific seabird sighted for first time in 80 years off Papua New Guinea

2:20 pm on 7 March 2008

A rare sea bird not sighted since the 1920s and feared extinct has been rediscovered by a British expedition in waters off Papua New Guinea.

The critically endangered Beck's petrel was re-discovered in the Bismarck Archipelago.

The Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club this week published a paper about the expedition by its leader, Israeli ornithologist and writer Hadoram Shirihai.

Until Mr Shirihai's voyage in July and August last year, there were only two known specimens of the bird in the world, collected in 1928 and 1929 and held by the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Nick Askew, spokesman for the British-based bird conservation society Birdlife International, hailed the discovery as "incredibly important".