MWVCRC - Seabird Health Program


entangled dead bird
oiled dead bird
Common Murres examined during systematic necropsy, illustrating examples of human-related mortality: entanglement and oiling.

OSPR's Seabird Health Program provides a regional information center regarding marine bird mortality events for federal, state, and local resource managers and is based out of California Department of Fish and Game Office of Spill Prevention and Response, Marine Wildlife and Veterinary Care and Research Center in Santa Cruz.

Marine birds are important indicators of marine ecosystem health as their abundance and mortality can provide indication of natural (such as changes in forage fish abundance) and human-related (chronic oiling, entanglement) changes in the coastal marine ecosystem. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Office of Spill Prevention and Response, Seabird Health Program was established in 2016. Our objectives are to design and conduct studies to investigate and monitor the health and pathology of marine birds to support the best achievable care of oiled wildlife and detect emerging threats to seabird populations. We also develop and conduct investigations to monitor the effects of chronic and unusual oiling events, and maintain readiness to respond to oil spills affecting wildlife.

We work collaboratively to gather regional data from beach survey programs, rehabilitation centers, and state and federal agencies. During unusual mortality events, we conduct post-mortem examinations of seabirds and work in conjunction with regional, state, and national laboratories to identify cause of mortality.

Annual Reports

Peer Reviewed Publications


Laird Henkel
Phone: (831) 469-1726

Office of Spill Prevention and Response
Mailing: P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
(916) 375-8580 for OSPR Information

Report Oil Spills
(800) 852-7550 or (800) OILS-911

Email OSPR | Office Locations

Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  Instagram  Flickr