Archiving biological and environmental samples for retrospective analysis is a major component of systematic environmental monitoring. The long-term storage of carefully selected, representative samples in an environmental specimen bank is an important complement to the real-time monitoring of the environment. These archived samples permit:
Seabirds, including albatrosses, pelicans, cormorants, terns, kittiwakes, murres, guillemots, and puffins spend most of their lives at sea and have special adaptations for feeding in the marine environment, including the ability to excrete the excess salt obtained from ingesting seawater. Many species nest in dense groups (colonies) on steep, precipitous sea-cliffs and headlands.
Seabirds are long-lived and slow to mature. They occupy high positions in the marine food web and are considered sensitive indicators for the marine environment (prey includes krill, small fish, and squid). Breeding success, timing of nesting, diets, and survival rates may provide early indications of changing environmental conditions (e.g., see Hatch et aI., 1993). Chemical analysis of seabird tissues, including egg contents, can be particularly useful in determining whether contaminants (and potential biological effects) associated with human industrial activities, such as offshore petroleum and mineral exploration and development, are accumulating in marine environments. The collection and archival of seabird tissues over a period of several years will be a resource for future analyses, providing samples that can be used to determine historical baseline contaminant levels.