A wild swimmer is raising cash in aid of seabirds that have been washing up dead or dying for weeks across the east coast.
Mirjam Brady-Van den Bos, a psychology lecturer at Aberdeen University, says it has been “heartbreaking” to hear about the plight of thousands of birds, mostly guillemots, that have been found deceased or starving on beaches all the way from Northumberland to Orkney in recent weeks.
Although no definite reason behind the die-offs has been pinpointed yet, scientists are looking into a number of potentials, including lack of food, climate change and disease.
Not content to “stand by and do nothing”, Mirjam has committed to swimming in the North Sea every day for a week without a wetsuit, and has asked supporters to help her raise cash off the back of her challenge for The New Arc wildlife rescue centre in Aberdeenshire.
‘It left me really upset for days’
Mirjam said: “I’ve always been very close to nature ever since I was very little, it’s always been a huge part of my everyday life.
“And by swimming in the sea, you become really close to the natural world.
“And to find out a couple of weeks ago about all the dead birds that have been found at the beach that I go to regularly, birds that I love, it left me really upset for days.”
The academic took up wild swimming in the sea and rivers during lockdown as a way of helping support her mental health.
So far, her fundraiser for the New Arc has generated more than £300, and she hopes the cash will help the charity to make a difference and save the struggling seabirds that are taken into its care.
‘The professionals at New Arc know what they’re doing’
Mirjam continued: “My swimming friends did a beach clean this weekend, and found loads of dead guillemots. It’s heartbreaking.
“I thought, I have to do something.
“I can’t fix the whole problem on my own, but I can do what I can do.
“The professionals at New Arc know what they’re doing, and I wanted to do this to help support them.”
Keith Marley from the New Arc centre said: “We really appreciate Mirjam’s efforts and I take my hat off to her, but that’s all I’m taking off, it’s far too cold for me and I’m shivering just thinking about it.
“Well done, Mirjam.”
You can donate to Mirjam’s fundraiser by clicking here.
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