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J Seys, H Offringa, P Meire, J Van Waeyenberge, and E Kuijken (2002)

Long-term changes in oil pollution off the Belgian coast: evidence from beached bird monitoring


Trends in oil pollution in the southernmost (Belgian) part of the North Sea were analysed using a dataset of 37 years (1962-99) of annual national beached bird surveys conducted in February each year. The most abundant seabird groups represented in the beached birds were auks (31\%), gulls (28\%), scoters (17\%) and Kittiwake (9\%). Oil rates of most bird species/taxa. indicate a decline in oil pollution, though only Larus-gulls, Common Guillemot and Razorbill show significant reductions. The slope in the linear decreasing trend is steeper in inshore and midshore species, than in pelagic species. A power analysis of the results demonstrated that statistically significant trends in annual indices would be expected within 17 years for Razorbill, 29 years for Larus-gulls and 31 years for Common Guillemot. For other species/taxa, at least 50 years of surveying would be required. Long-term oil pollution monitoring in Belgium should be continued with a major focus on a set of abundant bird taxa, sensitive to oil-pollution and occurring in various marine habitats. Most appropriate for this purpose are grebes (inshore), Larus-gulls, Common Guillemot and Razorbill (midshore) and Kittiwake and Fulmar (offshore).

seabirds; oil pollution; trends; North Sea; beached bird surveys; temporal variation
  • ISSN: 0777-6276

ISSN 2295-0451 (online version)
ISSN 0777-6279 (printed version)
impact factor 2015: 0,87.

Prof. Dr. Isa Schön
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Vautierstraat 29
1000 Brussels, Belgium


Annales de la Société malacologique de Belgique
​Annales de la Société royale malacologique et zoologique de Belgique
Annales de la Société Royale Zoologique de Belgique
Belgian Journal of Zoology