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

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.

Conservation Concerns

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

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

Latest News: Marine Birds

Maps of marine birds distributions and densities overlaid onto a tufted puffin.

Predictions from machine learning ensembles: marine bird distribution and density on Canada’s Pacific coast

In February of 2017, a team of researchers, including Raincoast senior scientist Dr. Paul Paquet, from five research facilities published their findings in Marine Ecology Progress Series: “Predictions from machine learning ensembles: Marine bird distribution and density on Canada’s Pacific coast”…

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

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…

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