In Dire Straits With A Plastic Paddle: The Plastic Crisis in our Oceans

By Holly Hogan Posted May 23, 2018 Seabirds living in the age of plastic waste (By Tyros.andi [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons). What is plastic and why are we suddenly so concerned about it? Plastic is a petroleum-based product, made up of many long carbon-based strands. There are different types of plastic; all have strong carbon bonds that make plastic durable and lightweight.   This quality also means that plastic molecules do not break down.  Rather, items simply break into small pieces and eventually become what is known as microplastics.   Fabrics made with plastic (e.g. fleece, polyester) shed fibres when they are washed, adding microfibers to the marine system. [pullquote] million water bottles are sold each minute around the world.  Of these, only 8% are recycled.[/pullquote] Modern plastics came into large-scale use after WWII, making previously unaffordable products cheap, easy to mass-produce and accessible to everyone.   Plastics are now…

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Research Spotlight Series: Colonial Seabird Monitoring in Atlantic Canada

By: Sabina Wilhelm, Canadian Wildlife Service Posted April 17, 2018 Editor’s Note: In our Research Spotlight Series we shine a light on exciting research in our province. In this post we showcase the Canadian Wildlife Service. Puffin research on Gull Island (Photo by Pierre Ryan). The Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) Colonial Seabird Monitoring Program focuses on assessing the population size and trends of 20 species of seabirds across the four Canadian Atlantic provinces, namely Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.  Over the past year, focus has been on continuing to update the status of major Leach’s Storm-Petrel colonies in the region in light of recent surveys having revealed that several of Newfoundland’s significant colonies, including Baccalieu Island, the world’s largest, have experienced declines of 40-50% over the past 20-30 years. In response to these declines, Bird Life International assessed this species as globally threatened and listed…

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The Disappearance of Millions of Newfoundland Seabirds

By Bill Montevecchi (Reprint of Birds I View from the Northeast Avalon Times August 2017) Leach's Storm-Petrel, Oceanodroma leucorhoa. (By Seabamirum from Ithaca (Leach's Storm Petrel) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons) Where have all the storm-petrels gone? Storm-petrels are the most abundant seabird breeding in eastern Canada. They appear at night in dizzying millions at major colonies on our coast. When a species is so prolific, population changes are actually often difficult to detect until they reach crisis proportions – think cod, capelin, caribou. Seabirds are the primary indicators of ocean pollution. They have been the focus of environmental monitoring plans since offshore oil exploration began on the Grand Banks. Under the “regulation” of the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB), these have been irrelevant paper exercises. The nocturnal Leach’s storm-petrel or carey chick as fishermen refer to them is the most vulnerable seabird to offshore platforms. These tiny robin-sized…

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