Protecting Marine Birds
Dr. Caroline Fox, Program Coordinator
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.
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.
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
Protecting marine birds through science & advocacy
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.
Latest News: Marine Birds
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…
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…
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…