Marine Bird Surveys

In 2005, Raincoast began 4 years of boat-based, systematic surveys of BC’s coastal waters to determine the at-sea abundance and distribution of marine birds. This work is part of our efforts to achieve long-term protection for maritime animals and their habitats.  Over 10,000 km of ocean trackline were surveyed between 2005 and 2008 collecting roughly 18,000 ‘sightings’ (totalling over 100,000 individual birds) in more than 70 species.

snow geese flying through the air

Published Analysis

In 2016, we published at-sea distribution and abundance results for BC marine birds, along with a risk assessment for chronic oil spills.

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

Download PDF until October 2016

Maps and Reports

The raw sightings data and maps can be viewed in the report Marine Bird Surveys 2005-2008 Raw Sightings Information.

Marine Bird Survey Report (PDF)

Bird surveys cover

This information was then used in the popular report, What’s at Stake: the Cost of Oil on BC’s Priceless Coast.

What’s at Stake Report (PDF)

What's at Stake Report Cover

Dr. Caroline Fox has also written a popular book At Sea with the Marine Birds of the Raincoast based on her experience as a marine bird biologist surveying the BC coast.

At Sea with the Marine Birds of the Raincoast

The poster below summarises the sightings and scientific methods behind Raincoast’s seabird data analysis.

Sightings and scientific methods behind Raincoast's seabird data analysis

slideshow of common marine birds we encountered on our surveys.

Birds eye view of SV Achiever on a dark ocean.

SV Achiever’s busiest year yet

Posted on
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

Posted on
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…
Marine Birds of the Raincoast by Caroline Fox

At Sea with the Marine Birds of the Raincoast

Posted on
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…

Saving Canada’s Pacific Coast

Posted on
CounterPunch June 6, 2011The growing emphasis on B.C.’s coast as an energy corridor has spurred substantial concerns from coastal communities and the public about the impacts and risks associated with large-scale oil operations and spills…
A close up image of several herring.

The early bird catches the herring

Posted on
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…

Review process fatally flawed

Posted on
Kitimat Northern Sentinel July 22, 2009 Chris Genovali Re: “Channel Watch demands inquiry” (Sentinel, July 8), the federal government’s joint review panel (JRP) process for the proposed Enbridge “Northern Gateway” pipeline is fatally flawed as the parameters for assessing risk illogically stop at the putative Kitimat terminal.