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Waterbird Populations and Pressures in the Baltic Sea

image of Waterbird Populations and Pressures in the Baltic Sea

This report outlines the results of the internationally coordinated census of wintering waterbirds in the Baltic Sea 2007-2009 undertaken under the SOWBAS project (Status of wintering Waterbird populations in the Baltic Sea). The estimated total number of wintering waterbirds was 4.41 million compared to 7.44 million during the last co-ordinated census 1992-1993. Despite the general declines stable or increasing populations of herbivorous species were recorded. While benthic carnivores with a coastal distribution have either shown moderate declines, stable or increasing populations seaducks with an offshore distribution have declined seriously. Based on analyses of trends in wintering waterbirds and pressures indicators are suggested as performance indicators in relation to the international and national actions taken to reduce the anthropogenic pressures in the Baltic Sea.

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The Baltic Sea Environment

The Baltic Sea is a brackish non-tidal sea covering about 415,000 km2 (including the Kattegat, the Danish straits, the Bothnian Bay, the Bothnian Sea andthe Gulf of Finland). The Baltic Sea was created after the lce Age. 10,000 years ago, a milder climate caused the ice in Sweden to melt, and the Baltic Ice Lake found an outlet to the ocean over central Sweden. Subsequently, this outlet was blocked due to the progressing uplift of mainland Sweden. As a result, the Baltic Sea basin became again an isolated lake. Because the land uplift was greater in the north than in the south, the floor of the Baltic Sea basin slowly tilted. About 7,500 years ago, a new contact with the ocean was established through the Danish sounds and straits. Since then, this outlet has been the only connection between the Baltic Sea and the North Atlantic.

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