Birds Oiled at SeaEntry ID: gomc_327
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.
(Click for Interactive Map)
Start Date: 1997-01-01
ISO Topic Category
Distribution Media: Online Internet (HTTP)
Role: DIF AUTHOR
Phone: (709) 772-4143
Email: neil.burgess at ec.gc.ca
17 Waterfowl Lane
Province or State: NB
Postal Code: A1N 4T3
Creation and Review Dates
DIF Creation Date: 2006-08-25
Last DIF Revision Date: 2009-01-15