More than 800 participants including world experts on penguins, puffins and albatrosses will be meeting in Victoria, BC, from September 7 to 11th as part of the 1st World Seabird Conference, Bird Studies Canada told me yesterday. Assembling to review the state of our world’s seabirds, they will address such issues as the impact of oil spills and pollution, fishing practices, climate change, invasive species, and general conservation needs. The organizers are hoping that the conference will lead to the formation of a new global governing body to address seabird monitoring and conservation.
Penguins, albatrosses and puffins are among the birds that are to the ocean what canaries are to mines. They reveal a lot about the health of marine ecosystems, and when their populations decline it tells of problems that can affect other life in the marine environment.
In a real “happens there, felt here” way, seabirds can be affected by events in different parts of the world because they migrate so far. They spend much of their lives on the high seas and can summer in one hemisphere and winter in the other. Most seabirds have multiple countries and bodies of water within their ranges.
Unfortunately, seabird populations have declined seriously over the last twenty years. Between being caught and drowned on fishing hooks, eating plastic garbage that they mistake for food, and being killed by invasive species, seabirds are telling us that our environment has problems that need solving.
The upcoming seabird conference will also feature a film festival and seabird art exhibition. For more information, see the Conference’s website.