|Seabirds and chronic oil pollution: Self-cleaning properties of gulls, Laridae, as revealed from colour-ring sightings|Camphuysen, K.C.J. (2011). Seabirds and chronic oil pollution: Self-cleaning properties of gulls, Laridae, as revealed from colour-ring sightings. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 62(3): 514-519. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2010.12.008
In: Marine Pollution Bulletin. Macmillan: London. ISSN 0025-326X, more
Seabirds; Chronic oil pollution; Self cleaning; Survival; Laridae
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Mystery oil spills off the Dutch coast affected colonial, adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls prior to and within the breeding season. From colour-ringed individuals, it was demonstrated that most oiled birds survived and were clean within a few weeks and often bred successfully. Further evidence of self-cleaning properties of Larus-gulls is provided from a long-term colour-ringing project (1984-2009). In total 46 birds were reported 'oiled', two died, but the majority cleaned itself and survived for up to 20 years after being oiled. From colour-ring data and 30 years of beached bird surveys (1980-2010) it is demonstrated that the effects of chronic oil pollution is larger in winter than in summer; a reflection of seasonal differences in exposure and environmental conditions. The self-cleaning properties of gulls are such that long-term survival is not necessarily jeopardised and even in a breeding season, not all is lost in case of a spill.