What’s at stake: The cost of oil on BC’s priceless coast

In 2004 Raincoast began 5 years of grueling and expensive boat-based, systematic surveys of BC’s coastal waters to determine the abundance and distribution of marine birds and mammals.  This work has been a critical part of our efforts to achieve long-term protection for maritime animals and their habitats.  Over 14,000 km of ocean trackline were surveyed between 2004 and 2008, primarily in the waters between Dixon Entrance (Alasks -BC Border) and Johnstone Strait, as well as the inside inlets. 

Incorporating data collected on our marine surveys, Raincoast has now published What’s at Stake: the Cost of Oil on British Columbia’s Priceless Coast, a popular report that conveys the ecological implications of oil tankers and oil spills to wildlife on the BC coast.  The report stems from the five years of at-sea surveys but places BC’s unique coastline in a broader ecological context.1


Raincoast Conservation Foundation. 2010. What’s at Stake?
The cost of oil on British Columbia’s priceless coast. Raincoast
Conservation Foundation. Sidney, British Columbia. Ver 02-10,
pp 1-64

ISBN: 978-0-9688432-5-3

Supplemental Material for What’s at Stake 

Killer whales swimming in the ocean with mountains in the background

Chapter 1.  Why survey for marine animals?

Chapter 2.  A changing ocean

Chapter 3. Five years of marine mammal and marine bird surveys

Download the technical report on distribution and abundance estimates (about 5.0 MB): Predictive Marine Mammal Modeling for Queen Charlotte Basin, British Columbia (PDF)

Marine mammal sightings maps (cetaceans, pinnipeds and sea otters)


Dolphins and porpoises

Pinnipeds and sea otters

Marine bird sightings maps



Marine waterfowl

Marine raptors: OspreyBald Eagle

Marine-associated birds:

Chapter 4.  A fragile labyrinth

Chapter 5.  Populations returning from the edge of extinction

British Columbia’s large whales were hunted almost to extinction.  Kill locations for large whales by species 1905-1967.  These maps represent less than half the whales killed in BC waters during the 1800s and 1900s.

Chapter 6.  Lessons from Alaska

Chapter 7. A crude proposal to ship oil through the BC coast

Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposed Pipeline and Tanker Route.  The route proposes a twined pipeline between Kitimat, BC and Bruiderheim, Alberta to ship crude oil west and condensate east.  At Kitimat the oil would be loaded onto tankers for markets and Asia and the US.

Potential spill scenario for a 250,000 barrel spill (Exxon size) occurring in Camano Sound prior to Douglas Channel.  The path of oil is based on moderate winds that push the oil north. However winds could easily move oil to Haida Gwaii or toward the Scott Islands.

The 3400 sq km area of Prince William Sound, Alaska actually affected by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill overlaid on the BC coast.  This is the extent of where oil actually went.

Queen of the North

Chapter 8. Petroleum and shipping threats to marine and terrestrial animals in the BC coast

What's at Stake: the Cost of Oil on BC's Priceless Coast cover

  1. The technical findings and modelling from this work can found in the report Predictive Marine Mammal Modeling for Queen Charlotte Basin, British Columbia (PDF).
  2. Broken link: files/WAS_report/birds/Signtings_maps_STSH.png.