Species at Risk

Around the world, many animals and plant species are designated as at-risk species, species that will eventually become extinct should we not help save them from being wiped off the face of the Earth. This biome is not excepted from this; many species are risking extinction in the years to come. One of these animals is the Marbled Murrelet.

Profile: Marbled Murrelet
A Marbled Murrelet swimming at sea.

The Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus), a small seabird of the same family as the puffin, is one of the species in the Temperate Rainforest biome that has been designated as threatened by SARA and COSEWIC. It is hardly a spectacular bird to look at: it has a dull black and white plumage, completely unadorned by tropical colours or bill ornaments. However, ironically enough, any spotting of this bird can be considered spectacular when you realize that it is so rarely seen that its population count is only an estimate.

The Marbled Murrelet lives along the western North American coastline; the main population - an estimated 50,000 - A rare occasion: someone is holding a Marbled Murrelet!is in British Columbia, but there are fragmented populations in Washington, Oregon, and even California. Because the Marbled Murrelet is very hard to survey, its total population - somewhere between 263,000 and 841,000 - is only an estimate (as mentioned earlier). It is expected that the population is declining at a rate of 4% yearly.

It is part of two completely different ecosystems. A pair of swimming Marbled Murrelets.The Marbled Murrelet nests in old-growth trees covered with moss. It then flies as much as 70 km to and from the sea to carry a meal for its young. Often, this obscure bird is often only seen when they are at sea searching for food.

There are several causes of its current status. The main threat to the Marbled Murrelet's survival is the loss of their nesting habitat. The trees they prefer to nest in are often the target of commercial logging. Combine this with their low reproduction rate of one egg per season and predation from other birds on their young and it can be easily understood why their population is sharply declining.