Note to Editors: This advisory contains information about the Important Bird Area affected by the Burnaby, BC oil spill.
Clean-up efforts are underway in Burnaby, BC after a construction crew accidentally punctured a pipeline and caused an oil spill. The extent of environmental damage from this oil spill is not yet known, though there is an immediate concern that wildlife, including seals and waterfowl, may be harmed or killed from contact with the toxic crude.
According to news reports, the oil entered nearby Burrard Inlet, which forms Burnaby's north boundary. Burrard Inlet and surrounding waters have been designated an Important Bird Area for its globally significant populations of waterfowl. Species that may be affected by the oil spill include nesting mallards and Canada geese, as well as colonial seabirds such as Pigeon Guillemot.
Because the spill occurred in the summer rather than the winter, a worse situation has been avoided. Numbers of birds reach their lowest point in the summer months. Nevertheless, the environmental effects of oil contamination could impact thousands of migratory birds that spend the winter months at this Important Bird Area.
Nature Canada provides the following information about the Burrard Inlet Important Bird Area. For more information about this area and its birds, as well as the impact the recent oil spill may have on bird populations, contact:
phone (604) 943-4460
Burrard Inlet is a sheltered fjord of the Georgia Strait that encompasses all water east of Point Atkinson in the north and Point Gray in the south. It includes False Creek and English Bay, Vancouver Harbour, Port Moody Arm and Indian Arm. The site contains man-made beaches, industrial encroachment, and the pristine Indian River estuary. Burrard Inlet lies between the city of Vancouver and the north shore municipalities of West Vancouver and North Vancouver. The main rivers flowing into the site are the Capilano and Seymour rivers.
The inlet is bounded to the north by the steep-walled Coast Mountains, and on the south by the densely urbanized areas of Vancouver. Most of the shoreline is rocky or built up with port facilities and seawalls, but there are extensive tidal sand flats at Spanish Banks and some remnant mudflats, and saltwater marshes, most notably Maplewood Flats. Killer Whales are occasionally seen in the bay and inlet.
Numerous waterbirds use the protected waters of Burrard Inlet for feeding during winter. In particular, between 2,000 and 15,000 Western Grebes winter in the English Bay-First Narrows area each year. As many as 17,400 waterfowl, such as Barrow's Goldeneye and Surf Scoters, have been tallied in winter. The peak number of Barrow's Goldeneyes is 7,126 birds, which is over 4% of the world population. High numbers of Surf Scoters have been observed - a winter maximum of 6,150 birds has been recorded. Approximately 10 Purple Martins nest at Maplewood Flats - one of the few nesting sites in British Columbia.