Environment Canada


  • To assess the state of the environment, with a focus on identifying  pathways of toxic chemical transfer to wildlife and possible impacts
  • To measure contaminant levels in fish-eating bird eggs and determine spatial and temporal trends


Freshly-laid gull and tern eggs are collected and sent to a lab for chemical analysis of oil sands-related chemicals such as mercury, arsenic, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Stable isotopes of nitrogen and carbon are measured to provide an indication of bird diet. Numbers of nests are also counted at colony sites.


Egg collection sites include Mamawi Lake and Rocky Point (Peace River) in Wood Buffalo National Park, and Egg Island Ecological Reserve in western Lake Athabasca.


Egg collections were done in June 2009, 2011, and 2012. Similar samples had been previously collected from Egg Island in 1977. The project is a component of the Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring.

Project Lead:

Craig Hebert
Environment Canada
National Wildlife Research Centre
1125 Colonel By Drive, Carleton University
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H3

Phone: 613-998-6693
E-mail: craig.hebert@ec.gc.ca