Mortality of Common Eider, Somateria mollissima (Linnaeus, 1758), and other water birds during two inshore oiling events in southeastern Newfoundland, 2005 and 2006

Gregory J. Robertson, Scott G. Gilliland, Pierre C. Ryan, Johanne Dussureault, Kyran Power, Bruce C. Turner


Although the waters off Newfoundland harbour millions of wintering marine birds, chronic marine oil pollution has been repeatedly reported. Unusually high numbers (hundreds) of oiled birds were noted following two events in March 2005 and April 2006 in southeastern Newfoundland. Common Eiders (Somateria mollissima [Linnaeus, 1758]) were the main victims in the first event, with at least 1400 affected, based on retrieval of carcasses and aerial surveys. The April 2006 event affected 19 species; Common Eiders were again the most numerous with a minimum of 337 birds oiled. Among the Common Eiders affected in both events, most were the northern type, including the borealis (C. L. Brehm, 1824) subspecies and presumed intergrades between borealis and dresseri Sharpe, 1871. Coupled with the legal harvest, these oiling events may have had an effect on the wintering Common Eider population. Alcids, other sea ducks, loons and gulls were also oiled, but in low numbers (< 100); thus, their populations were not likely affected by these events.


Oil pollution; Common Eider; Somateria mollissima; water birds; Avalon Peninsula; Newfoundland

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