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Laysan Albatross
Credit: Marc Romano, USFWS

"Seabirds" is a general term is used to collectively describe any species of bird which spends a substantial part of its life foraging and breeding in the marine environment. 

Some reserve the term for those species most associated with the marine environment, specifically Diomedeidae (albatrosses), Procellariidae (shearwaters, petrels, fulmars), Hydrobatidae (storm-petrels), Phaethontidae (tropicbirds), Sulidae (boobies, gannet), Fregatidae (frigatebirds), alcids (auks, murres, puffins) and tropical larids (terns, noddies).

Concerns About Seabirds

Seabirds are among the most threatened groups of birds in North America, according to the North American Waterbird Conservation Plan's species conservation status assessment and well as globally, as documented by the IUCN Red List Indices for bird-species groups.

Threats such as habitat disturbance, nesting habitat degradation and loss, changes in food supply, fishery bycatch and others have had a substantial impact on seabird populations worldwide; these threats are exacerbated by the natural history traits of seabirds (restricted breeding ranges, delayed onset of reproduction, low reproductive rate). Moreover, there are significant gaps in seabird conservation (relating to knowledge, capacity and integration) because of seabirds’ use of the pelagic environment and the manner in which ocean resources are managed. 

Based on these concerns, the Waterbird Conservation Council retained a team of University of Maryland Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology Program graduate students to perform a strategic assessment of the state of seabird conservation and the capacity of the Council to address conservation needs:

Strategic Engagement in Seabird Conservation: An Opportunities Assessment and Action Guide for the Waterbird Conservation Council. A Report prepared by Nicole Balloffet, Wendel Landes, and Nicole LeBoeuf. December 2006. (PDF, 1.1 MB) The team’s recommendations centered around how the Waterbird Conservation Council as a whole and its members individually can advance specific conservation objectives, while raising the overall profile of the Council and facilitating a more cohesive, coordinated, and strategic approach to seabird conservation in the Americas.

Seabird Conservation Activities

Council acknowledged the quality and utility of the students work and reaffirmed its desire to increase efforts on behalf of the seabird in 2007, including support for:

Regional-scale activities for seabirds

Global Seabird Programme of Birdlife International

American Bird Conservancy's Work on Seabirds and Longlines

Pacific Seabird Group

Northwestern Atlantic Birds at Sea Conservation Cooperative

Logo for ACAP Learn about ACAP - the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels. This multilateral agreement seeks to conserve some of the world's most threatened birds by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to albatross and petrels populations.





Last Updated March 17, 2008
U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) is supporting the Waterbird Conservation for the Americas Home Page as part of its contribution to North American Waterbird Conservation Plan (NAWCP). It is being served by the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Information provided in this site does not necessarily have the endorsement of the USGS.