Migratory Bird Management
Alaska Region



Monitoring Beaufort Sea Waterfowl and Marine Birds, Aerial Survey Component

Recent expansion of oil and gas development from on-shore sites into the near-shore waters of the Beaufort Sea raised concerns that wildlife using these waters may be at risk to disturbance and potential oil spills. As a result, the USFWS- Division of Migratory Bird Management in cooperation with USGS-Biological Resources Division, and Minerals Management Service, conducted a two-year survey of marine bird distribution patterns in near-shore and offshore waters in the Central Beaufort Sea. Wildlife species of particular concern to managers are more than one hundred thousand sea ducks and other marine birds that use the Beaufort Sea each summer. Despite high abundance of sea ducks in the Beaufort Sea, recent declines in some sea duck species have been documented state-wide.

The specific objectives of this study were to:

1. Monitor Long-tailed Ducks and other species within and among "industrial" and "control" areas using existing protocol (OCS-MMS 92-0060).

2. Use data from 1999-2000 and data collected by Johnson and Gazey (1992) in 1990-1991 to compare Long-tailed Duck population trends between "industrial" and "control" areas, and to describe the relationship between distribution patterns and human activities.

3. Expand the Near-shore survey area to encompass habitats between the original "industrial" and "control" areas, and sample Near-shore Marine habitat from Oliktok Point to Brownlow Point to delineate small-scale distribution patterns of marine birds throughout the expanded study area.

4. Correlate variation in marine bird populations with environmental factors, human activities, and temporal and spatial variables.

5. Implement an Offshore survey that targets Spectacled (Somateria fischeri), Common (S. mollisima) and King Eiders (S. spectabilis).

6. Document distribution patterns of marine birds within the Offshore survey area.

Click on the links below to view the final report for this project entitled, Monitoring Beaufort Sea Waterfowl and Marine Birds, Aerial Survey Component.(Files are in pdf format)

Preface (100kb, pdf)
Introduction and Methods (418kb, pdf)
Nearshore Results (779kb, pdf)
Offshore Results (777kb, pdf)
Discussion and Conclusion (116kb, pdf)
Literature cited (72kb, pdf)
Appendices (170kb, pdf)

Last Updated: September 15, 2008