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BC Beached Bird Survey

Photo: Eric Demers

Do you enjoy walking along British Columbia beaches, and are you interested in actively contributing to coastal conservation? Become a BC Beached Bird Survey volunteer!

Surveys involve checking your favourite beach once a month for carcasses that have washed up on shore. It may sound grim, but this information is key to understanding causes of seabird mortality, and identifying which species are most vulnerable to events such as oil spills and fisheries bycatch. Even though birds are not always found, “zero data” provides important baseline information. No special skills are required to participate, and it’s suitable for all ages. All the survey equipment and data forms are provided.

Volunteer Beached Bird Surveys, coordinated by Alan Burger out of the University of Victoria from 1986 to 1997, provided the first baseline data for the BC coast. After a five-year hiatus, Birds Canada re-initiated the BC Beached Bird Survey in late 2002. In the U.S., COASST (Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team) coordinates surveys in Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska.

Reporting an Environmental Emergency:


If you find:
• Oil on the beach that appears to have washed ashore
• Five or more oiled carcasses (bird, mammal, turtle) on the same survey
• Massive die-offs (large fish kill, beached marine mammals, turtles, birds)
• Live oiled birds or other animals in distress

Please report to Canada’s Environmental Emergency Hotline at 1-800-663-3456. This number is available 24 hours a day. Do not hesitate to call this number in any of the above situations. Be sure to report your findings on your Beached Bird Survey data sheets as well.

If you find birds that are alive and injured or in distress, contact your local wildlife rehabilitation centre or SPCA. Please do not handle them unless you have specific wildlife rescue training.

If you find dead marine mammals, especially cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises, or Orcas) on the beach, please contact Fisheries and Oceans Canada on their 24-hour toll-free line: 1-800-465-4336. If you are able to take photos and provide additional location and observation information, please email with the photos and information, and CC on the email.

For more information, contact:

Rémi Torrenta, Ph.D.
BC Projects Coordinator
rtorrenta @ 

This project was undertaken with the financial support of: