Protecting Marine Birds

Two sea gulls fight over a herring on the surface of the water

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 travelling 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.

Conservation Concerns

Despite their multitudes, many marine bird species on our coast are of great conservation concern. Some populations are known or are suspected to be experiencing declines. Major knowledge gaps exist for marine birds at sea, particularly during seasons other than summer and for North and Central coast waters. This lack of information is a large concern as threats to marine birds are numerous and often interactive.

Protecting marine birds through science & advocacy

Bird surveys cover

To address these knowledge gaps, Raincoast undertook extensive at-sea marine bird surveys between 2005  and 2008. We surveyed thousands of kilometers and amassed nearly 20,000 marine bird sightings with over 100,000 individuals counted in more than 70 species.

Support Raincoast’s Work to Protect the Marine Birds of British Columbia

Marine birds in the Queen Charlotte Basin, BC coast, waters of the Great Bear Rainforest

British Columbia’s marine birds face many threats

  • chronic and catastrophic oil spills
  • oil extraction and development
  • fisheries conflict
  • contaminants and pollutants
  • marine debris
  • introduced predators
  • wind turbines
  • habitat loss, degradation and disturbance
  • climate change
  • food supply change

Marine bird conservation news

Birds eye view of SV Achiever on a dark ocean.

SV Achiever’s busiest year yet

Achiever went back to its roots, supporting Raincoast scientists doing in-house marine mammal research, facilitating government scientists surveying marine birds, and hosting youth trips.
A Humpback whale fin is visible above the surface of the ocean.

Ecological legacy of coastal B.C. hangs in the balance

One hundred years ago, whaling largely extirpated humpback and fin whales from the inside waters of the B.C. coast. As the federal government looks to codify a 35-year moratorium on oil-tanker traffic into law, these whale populations are recovering and returning to their historic feeding grounds…

Coastal bird populations and Big Oil

Times Colonist: Raincoast studies helped put nails in the coffin of the Northern Gateway pipeline. Excerpt for the book “At sea with the marine birds of the Raincoast by Dr. Caroline Fox…
Marine Birds of the Raincoast by Caroline Fox

At Sea with the Marine Birds of the Raincoast

Released by Rocky Mountain Books, this nonfiction book shares the unique story of conservation scientist Dr. Caroline Fox as she surveys marine birds on BC’s coast, calling attention to the urgent conservation challenges faced by many of these birds…
Seagull flies low over the water touch their feet onto the orange sunset surface.

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

Chronic oil pollution is a serious issue in BC. More oil enters the global marine environment from low-level human activities than catastrophic oil spills. Evidence also suggests that these chronic level spills collectively kill more birds than catastrophic spills…
A dark morph Northern fulmar flies over the blue gray waters of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of BC.

At Sea with the Marine Birds of the Raincoast

At Sea with the Marine Birds of the Raincoast shares the unique story of conservation scientist Dr. Caroline Fox as she sails thousands of kilometers along the BC coast, surveying marine birds.
A close up image of several herring.

The early bird catches the herring

Seaside Times April 2011By Chris GenovaliCaroline Fox has been a biologist with Raincoast Conservation Foundation’s marine conservation program since 2007 and serves as Raincoast’s lead scientist for our work on marine birds…