Sea bird experts from across the globe are expected to meet in Victoria next week for a gathering described as the first of its kind.
A key goal of the five-day scientific conference is to improve understanding about threatened bird populations by establishing a new body to oversee worldwide information-sharing.
“There’s a lot of different sea bird species and that will cross and pass through 20, 30 different countries’ waters, as well as international waters, through the course of a year,” said Peter Davidson with Bird Studies Canada.
“Having information available to each of those countries in a standard format that people can then work on is a huge need at this point in time that will help take us a long way forward.”
Davidson described sea birds such as penguins and puffins as important indicators of the health of marine ecosystems.
“They’re kind of an early warning signal, if you like, to changes going on in ecosystems, maybe as a result of climate change, or maybe as a result of a pollution issue or something like that,” he told the Straight today (September 1) by phone.
Marine birds face threats from fisheries bycatch, chronic small-scale oil spills and predators such as rats and feral cats that wreak havoc at sensitive breeding sites.
The World Seabird Conference, taking place September 7 to 11, is sponsored by 26 regional groups from around the world that are focussed on science and conservation.