Birds Oiled at Sea
Entry ID: gomc_327

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Summary
Abstract: Oil released at sea, whether from chronic operational discharges or
accidental spills, can directly kill any seabird that it touches on the sea
surface. This oiling causes severe distress for individual birds and can have
significant impacts at the population level. Marine oil pollution from chronic
operational discharges is both illegal and preventable. The costs of taking
appropriate action to prevent such discharges make it important to quantify, to
the degree possible, the severe ecological consequences of continuing to
release oil into the sea.

Atlantic Canada is an important crossroads for seabirds, where productive
marine waters support the tens of millions of birds. Huge numbers of birds from
Newfoundland breeding colonies overlap with millions of seasonal visitors -
wintering birds from colonies in Arctic Canada and Europe and from the south
Atlantic. The same waters serve as commercial fishing grounds and major
shipping lanes linking Europe and North America.

For the waters off southeastern Newfoundland, the many variables that must be
considered to complete these complicated calculations have been assembled for
the species most commonly found oiled - the Thick-billed Murre, or turr. This
species breeds in colonies in the eastern Canadian Arctic and western
Greenland, and is one of the most numerous wintering seabirds in waters off
Newfoundland and northern Nova Scotia. It is regionally important as the most
common species taken in the Newfound-land turr hunt.

Waterbody or Watershed Names: Atlantic Ocean, Canada


Purpose: Assessing the numbers of seabirds killed by oil at sea.
Only a small proportion of birds killed by oil are actually found on shore,
because many never reach land, instead being carried offshore or sinking.
Others may reach the shore but are never found, instead becoming buried in the
beach, decomposing or being carried off by scavengers. Estimates of the actual
number of birds dying at sea are derived using an approach that sequentially
builds in the following information:

-the number of oiled birds found washed ashore on beaches,
-the length of time that carcasses of oiled birds remain on a beach,
-the length of time that an oiled bird carcass floats at sea before sinking,
-the proportion of those birds that die at sea which drift towards shore, and
-the size of the ocean area being considered, where ship-source oil pollution
and seabirds overlap, resulting in the risk of oiling to seabirds.

Additional Information OR Comments: Videos and fact sheets are available.

Related URL
Link: VIEW PROJECT HOME PAGE
Description: Additional information about this monitoring program and data are available
from this web site.


Geographic Coverage
 N: 70.67 S: 42.94  E: -51.152  W: -142.91

Temporal Coverage
Start Date: 1997-01-01


Location Keywords
OCEAN > ARCTIC OCEAN
CONTINENT > NORTH AMERICA > CANADA
GEOGRAPHIC REGION > POLAR
OCEAN > ATLANTIC OCEAN > NORTH ATLANTIC OCEAN > GULF OF MAINE


Science Keywords
BIOLOGICAL CLASSIFICATION >ANIMALS/VERTEBRATES >BIRDS    [Definition]


ISO Topic Category
BIOTA


Project
GOMMP >Gulf of Maine Monitoring Programs    [Information]


Keywords
Atlantic Seabirds
Thick-billed Murre, or turr


Originating Center


Data Center
Atlantic Region, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada    [Information]
Data Center URL: http://www.ns.ec.gc.ca/wildlife/

Data Center Personnel
Name: NEIL BURGESS
Phone: (709) 772-4143
Email: neil.burgess at ec.gc.ca
Contact Address:
17 Waterfowl Lane
City: Sackville
Province or State: NB
Postal Code: A1N 4T3
Country: Canada



Distribution
Distribution_Media: Online Internet (HTTP)
Fees: No


Personnel
NEIL BURGESS
Role: DIF AUTHOR
Phone: (709) 772-4143
Email: neil.burgess at ec.gc.ca
Contact Address:
17 Waterfowl Lane
City: Sackville
Province or State: NB
Postal Code: A1N 4T3
Country: Canada



Creation and Review Dates
DIF Creation Date: 2006-08-25
Last DIF Revision Date: 2009-01-15

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