Research by the University of British Columbia shows that the world’s monitored seabird populations have dropped 70 per cent since the 1950s.
The university says the results are “a stark indication that marine ecosystems are not doing well.”
The study by Michelle Paleczny, a UBC master’s student and researcher with the Sea Around Us project, along with co-authors, was compiled based on more than 500 seabird populations around the world. The studied groups represent 19 per cent of the global seabird population.
The loss over 60 years was equivalent to around 230 million birds.
Paleczny says “Seabirds are particularly good indicators of the health of marine ecosystems.” She attributes the dramatic decline to various factors, including including overfishing for the seabirds’ food source, and birds getting tangled in fishing line, plastics and oil pollution.
The introduction of non-native predators, destruction and changes to habitat, and climate change were also cited as factors for the seabirds’ decline.
The study is the first to estimate the overall change in available data on the global seabird population. It was a collaboration between UBC researchers Paleczny, Vasiliki Karpouzi and Daniel Pauly of UBC, and Edd Hammill of the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.
To read the UBC press release, click here.