Lucas, Z & C MacGregor. 2006. Characterization and source of oil contamination on the beaches and seabird corpses, Sable Island, Nova Scotia, 1996-2005. Marine Pollution Bulletin 52: 778-789.
Summary (ZL): This paper reports on the likely source of oil found on seabird corpses that wash ashore on Sable Island, Nova Scotia. Between April 1996 and May 2005, monthly beach surveys for oiled seabirds were conducted on the island. The entire shoreline—the north and south sides, from the west tip to the east tip—was searched for birds that died at sea and washed ashore, or died on the beach. During the nine years of this study, 2343 oiled seabird corpses were recorded. One hundred eighty-three samples of oil were collected from the beach and from the feathers of dead birds. Gas chromatographic (GC/FID) analysis was used to identify generic oil type and its likely marine source. The results of these analyses indicate that during this study, at least 74 marine oil discharge events were likely responsible for the pelagic tar and contaminated seabird corpses found on Sable Island. Of the 74 events, 77.0% involved crude oils, 14.9% were fuel oils, and 8.1% were bilge oil mixtures. While fuel and bilge oils may be discharged by all types of vessels and platforms, crude oil discharges are associated with tanker operations. This study demonstrates that oiling of the sea from tankers is serious wildlife issue in the Northwest Atlantic.