Marine birds and chronic oil pollution on Canada’s Pacific coast

A preliminary spatial assessment of risk for BC's marine birds.

Chronic oil pollution poses substantial risks to marine birds and other marine wildlife worldwide. On Canada’s Pacific coast, the negative ecological consequences to marine birds and marine ecosystems, in general, remain poorly understood. Using information relating to oil spill probability of occurrence, areas of overall importance to marine birds, and the at-sea distribution and density of 12 marine bird species and seven bird groups, including multiple Species at Risk, we undertook a spatial assessment of risk.

Our results identify two main areas important to marine birds potentially at higher risk of exposure to oil. For individual bird species or species groups, those predicted to have elevated bird densities near the mainland and the northeast coast of Vancouver Island were identified as being at higher potential risk of exposure. Our results, however, should be considered preliminary. As with other anthropogenic stressors, in order to better understand and subsequently mitigate the consequences of chronic oil pollution on marine birds, improved information relating to marine birds and the occurrence of oil spills on Canada’s Pacific coast is needed.

A preliminary spatial assessment of risk: Marine birds and chronic oil pollution on Canada’s Pacific coast

Fox, C.H., P.D. O’Hara, S. Bertazzon, K. Morgan, F.E. Underwood and P.C. Paquet. 2016. A preliminary spatial assessment of risk: Marine birds and chronic oil pollution on Canada’s Pacific coast.  Science of the Total Environment Volume 573, 15 December 2016, Pages 799–809

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• On Canada’s Pacific coast, the effects of chronic oil pollution are poorly known.

• This study evaluates the spatial risk of oil exposure to marine birds.

• Two areas of highest potential risk were identified in the study area.

• Individual marine bird species identified at most risk varied taxonomically.

• Further improvement of marine bird and chronic oil pollution information is needed.


C.H. Fox a, b, c,  ,P.D. O’Harab, d, S. Bertazzone,K. Morgand,F.E. UnderwoodeP.C. Paquet b, c

  • a Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada
  • b Department of Geography, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC V8W 2Y2, Canada
  • c Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Sidney, BC V8L 3Y3, Canada
  • d Environment and Climate Change Canada, Sidney, BC V8L 4B2, Canada
  • e Department of Geography, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada

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