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Marine oil pollution and beached bird surveys: the development of a sensitive monitoring instrument
Camphuysen, C.J.; Heubeck, M. (2001). Marine oil pollution and beached bird surveys: the development of a sensitive monitoring instrument. Environ. Pollut. 112(3): 443-461.
In: Environmental Pollution. Elsevier: Barking. ISSN 0269-7491; e-ISSN 1873-6424, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Camphuysen, C.J., more
  • Heubeck, M.

    One of the most obvious adverse effects of (chronic) pollution of the world's oceans and seas with mineral oil is the mortality of seabirds. Systematic surveys of beach cast corpses of birds ('beached bird surveys') have been used in many parts of the world to document the effect of oil pollution, but particularly so in Western Europe and in parts of North America. In this paper, the history, current schemes, methods and possible (future) use of beached bird surveys are described and discussed, because the value of beached bird surveys has been hotly disputed. Oil pollution is known since the late 19th century, while the first beached bird surveys were conducted in the 1920s. Due to the amount of man-power needed for these surveys, most beached bird survey programs thrived only through the work of a large number of volunteers. However, most programs have resulted in substantial amounts of high quality data, often covering many consecutive years. One of the main shortcomings of many beached bird survey programs was the emphasis on stranded bird numbers rather than on relative measures, such as oil rates (percentage of corpses oiled of all corpses found). Sources of pollution, particularly so in chronically polluted regions such as the North Sea, the Baltic, the Mediterranean and the waters around Newfoundland, are insufficiently known, but could be studied through a sampling program connected to beached bird surveys. Suggestions for standardization of methods are presented, which could lead to a global and highly sensitive monitoring instrument of marine oil pollution.

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