Protecting BC’s Marine Birds and their Ocean Habitat
Marine Bird Team
Program Coordinator and PhD Student -
Why Marine Birds?
The highly productive waters and shores of British Columbia’s coast support an incredible diversity and density of marine life. Vast numbers of marine birds use these areas for critical activities such as breeding, foraging, wintering and migration. It is estimated that nearly 6 million individuals from 15 or so seabird species breed locally. The coast is also a portion of the Pacific Flyway, a major corridor for millions of migratory birds traveling to and from breeding grounds in the Arctic and elsewhere in the continent. Long distance migrants that may breed elsewhere in the world, such as albatrosses and shearwaters, are found offshore in significant numbers.
Our work: Protecting marine birds through science and advocacy
To address these knowledge gaps, Raincoast undertook extensive at-sea marine bird surveys between 2005 and 2008. We have surveyed thousands of kilometers and amassed nearly 20,000 marine bird sightings with over 100,000 individuals counted. Our survey area includes the waters of Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait, Queen Charlotte Sound, Queen Charlotte Strait and a number of mainland inlets. So far, over 70 species have been observed. Sighting maps for most of these species can be downloaded below.
We are also analyzing these data for further contributions to at-sea distribution and abundance. Download the What’s at Stake report for further discussions on findings to date.
This report explores the risks from oil tankers and spills on BC’s coastal wildlife
Sighting maps of marine birds from surveys 2005-2008
Jaegers, Kittiwakes and Gulls: Pomarine Jaeger, Parasitic Jaeger, Long-tailed Jaeger, Black-legged Kittiwake, Bonaparte’s Gull, Mew Gull, California Gull, Herring Gull, Thayer’s Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Sabine’s Gull, Western Gull
Oystercatchers: Black Oystercatcher
Despite their multitudes, many marine bird species on our coast are of great conservation concern. Some marine bird populations are known or are suspected to be experiencing population declines. Further, major knowledge gaps exist for marine birds at sea, particularly during seasons other than summer and for North and Central coast waters. The relative lack of information about marine birds at sea is a serious conservation concern as threats to marine birds are numerous, often interactive, and growing.
British Columbia’s marine birds face the following threats:
• chronic and catastrophic oil spills
• oil extraction and development
• food supply change
• fisheries conflict
• contaminants and pollutants
• marine debris
• introduced predators
• wind turbines
• habitat loss/degradation and disturbance
• climate change