Pelagic divers

This group consists of the auks/alcids. They are black and white sea birds that gather in large flocks on the sea surface, especially at eddies in open sea where the biological production is high. Depending on the species, they may forage as far as 100 km from the breeding colony in the breeding season and live mostly at open sea outside the breeding season, diving through the surface when hunting fish. All species are very vulnerable to oil on the surface, and are not known to avoid slicks. Auks breed in colonies in the outer coastal areas, often on steep cliffs (common guillemots/Brünnichs guillemot/little auk) or in burrows (puffin/razorbill).

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Species within this ecological group on the NCS include:


Species within this group are highly sensitive to oil pollution. Losses may be difficult to assess, as birds that are oiled at sea may sink. 

Oil on the feathers leads to loss of insulation, flotation and water proofing properties of the plumage. The high vulnerability of the auks is due to spending most of the time on the sea surface and thereby being totally dependent on intact plumage.

Predominant environmental zone: