Seabird Survival Program

The seabirds that we share the oceans with live their lives as they have since the last glacial retreat, about 11,000 years ago. They have survived the hazards of fierce storms and efficient predators, and yet maintained healthy breeding populations. In the last 300 years though, the human population of coastal BC has increased more than 30 times, putting increasing pressures on seabirds. We take over nesting colonies for their own settlements, compete for food, introduce alien predators like rats, and disturb the daily lives of seabirds with our commercial and recreational activities.

The Seabird Survival Program is an initiative of BC Nature to help minimize human disturbance of seabirds in the southern Strait of Georgia. The project proposes voluntary viewing guidelines that recreational boaters and beachwalkers can use to reduce their impacts on seabirds.

  • Allow a distance of at least 100 metres between you and nesting seabirds at their colonies – more if the birds are showing signs of disturbance. Some areas such as ecological reserves or parks may suggest a greater distance. Do not land at any nesting colonies to visit, picnic or relieve your dog.
  • Allow a distance of at least 50 metres between you and seabirds on the water – more if the birds are showing signs of disturbance. Larger flocks are more likely to panic, so give them a wider berth if it is safe to do so.
  • Avoid flushing birds when you go ashore. Birds can fly to escape when you approach, but they expend energy they may need to escape eagles and falcons. Move slowly and predictably. Keep dogs on leash when seabirds or shorebirds are present.
  • Use binoculars to view wildlife. Seabirds 100 meters away will appear less than 15 meters away through seven-power binoculars.

Estimating distances over water can be difficult. When in doubt, err on the side of caution.

Seabird Survival Brochure (2016)


» Download Seabird Survival Brochure (2016)

Brochures are also available from the BC Nature office.
Email to request a print copy.