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Challenges to oil spill assessment for seabirds in the deep ocean

July 1, 2017

We synthesize impediments for evaluating effects to seabirds from open ocean hydrocarbon releases. Effects on seabirds from ship discharges, spills, and well blowouts often are poorly detected and monitored far from land. Regulatory regimes for ocean spills can result in monitoring efforts that are not entirely transparent. We illustrate how interdisciplinary technologies address deficits that hamper individual or population level assessments for seabirds, and we demonstrate where emerging technologies might be engaged to bridge gaps in oil spill monitoring. Although acute mortality from direct oil exposure poses the greatest risk to seabirds, other hazards from light-attraction, flaring, collisions, chronic pollution, and hydrocarbon inhalation around oil infrastructure also may induce bird mortality in the deep ocean.

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