Light-induced bird strikes on vessels in Southwest Greenland.

Research paper by Flemming Ravn FR Merkel, Kasper Lambert KL Johansen

Indexed on: 23 Sep '11Published on: 23 Sep '11Published in: Marine Pollution Bulletin


Light-induced bird strikes are known to occur when vessels navigate during darkness in icy waters using powerful searchlight. In Southwest Greenland, which is important internationally for wintering seabirds, we collected reports of incidents of bird strikes over 2-3 winters (2006-2009) from navy vessels, cargo vessels and trawlers (total n=19). Forty-one incidents were reported: mainly close to land (<4 km, 78%), but one as far offshore as 205 km. Up to 88 birds were reported killed in a single incident. All occurred between 5p.m. and 6a.m. and significantly more birds were involved when visibility was poor (snow) rather than moderate or good. Among five seabird species reported, the common eider (Somateria mollissima) accounted for 95% of the bird casualties. Based on spatial analyses of data on vessel traffic intensity and common eider density we are able to predict areas with high risk of bird strikes in Southwest Greenland.