Cornish bird expert finds new species of petrel
With its drab black and white plumage, the sparrow-sized seabird might not look very exciting, but to Cornish ornithologist Peter Harrison it represents the discovery of a lifetime.
The Land's End-based expert led an international team which successfully found the new species of storm-petrel off the coast of Chile. The remarkable achievement makes it the first completely new member of the species to be discovered in 89 years and the first completely new seabird species to be unearthed in 55 years.
Mr Harrison said he was delighted: "If we had won the lottery, we could not feel better."
The momentous discovery of the new storm petrel has now just been formally named in a scientific paper and will be known as the Pincoya after a Chilean sea goddess who is said to live in seas near to where it was found.
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Mr Harrison led the five-person international team when it found the Pincoya in waters south of the seaside town of Puerto Montt in southern Chile.
Only a handful of new bird species are discovered each year, usually in the corner of a remote jungle or from a seldom visited mountain top.
The new species is a seabird, a group of birds that are generally thought to be wide ranging and not easily overlooked.
There were previously thought to be 22 species of storm petrel with the last discovery being that of Matsudaira's Storm-petrel in 1922, in waters off Japan.
The sparrow-sized storm-petrels weigh just a few ounces and are the smallest of all seabirds, easily fitting into the palm of the hand.
The expedition team spread cod liver oil and fish scraps on the water to attract the small birds within range of specially designed net guns.