JNCC seabird distribution and abundance data (all trips) from ESAS database

European Seabirds at Sea

Dataset credit

Joint Nature Conservation Committee (United Kingdom)
Nederlands Instituut voor Onderzoek der Zee (the Netherlands)
Ornis Consult (Denmark)
National Institute for Coastal and Marine Management/RIKZ (the Netherlands)
Nederlands Zeevogelgroep (the Netherlands)
Instituut voor Bos- en Natuuronderzoek (the Netherlands)
Instituut voor Natuur Behoud (Belgium)
National Environmental Research Institute (Denmark)
Norsk Institutt for Naturforskning (Norway)
Vogelwarte Helgoland (Germany)


Primary contact Tim Dunn Joint Nature Conservation Committee
Data entry Ei Fujioka Duke University



The European Seabirds at Sea (ESAS) database was established in 1991 as a collaboration between individuals and institutes who had collected data on the distribution of seabirds and marine mammals in north-west European offshore areas. The most recent version of this database contains over two million records which were collected over 25 years.


The founding aim of this project was to merge data from different collaborators and use these to publish an atlas depicting vulnerable concentrations of seabirds to oil pollution. Subsequently, these data have been used for a wide variety of research purposes. The collaboration has also developed and defined common standards in data capture, processing and storage.

Supplemental information

[2020-10-01] The following invalid species names were corrected according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).
Larus ridibundus (176835) => Chroicocephalus ridibundus (824041)
Corvus monedula (179746) => Coloeus monedula (916629)
Little Gull: Larus minutus (176840) => Hydrocoloeus minutus (824065)
Little Tern: Sterna albifrons (176899) => Sternula albifrons (824126)
Mediterranean Gull: Larus melanocephalus (176858) => Ichthyaetus melanocephalus (824070)
Red Phalarope: Phalaropus fulicaria (554376) => Phalaropus fulicarius (176734)
Sandwich Tern: Sterna sandvicensis (176927) => Thalasseus sandvicensis (176932)
Turtles: Testudines (173749) => Testudines (948936)
Phylloscopus sibilatrix (179847) => Phylloscopus sibillatrix (916708)
Sula bassanus (174711) => Morus bassanus (174712)
Larus sabini (176865) => Xema sabini (176866)
Saxicola torquata (554448) => Saxicola torquatus (726114)

[2015-03-24] A few records had a wrong animal count of zero. The value is replaced with a blank representing species presence only.

This dataset represents a subset of version 4.1 of the ESAS database, which is composed of three related tables. As some attributes from the original dataset are dropped in the public view, certain records may appear as duplicate observations. This, however, is not the case, as these records will have varying attribute values in the original database (e.g., age/plumage/behavior, etc.) and should therefore be treated as separate entities.

Species notes:

Species EURING code 462 (noted [sp_obs] field in the dataset) is Puffinus puffinus mauretanicus. As ITIS doesn't register this species, it is represented as Puffinus puffinus (TSN 174555), instead.

Species EURING code 460 (noted the [sp_obs] field in the dataset) is Puffinus puffinus whose counterpart in ITIS is also Puffinus puffinus (TSN 174555).

This dataset includes multiple trips whose survey methods vary. Please consult the data provider for the proper use of the dataset.


Stone, C. J., A. Webb, C. Barton, N. Ratcliffe, T.C. Reed, M.L. Tasker, C.J. Camphuysen, and M.W. Pienkowski. 1995. An atlas of seabird distribution in north-west European waters. Joint Nature Conservation Committee report, Peterborough, ISBN 1 873701 94 2.



This dataset includes multiple survey trips from the ESAS version 4 database. Data were collected using a variety of methods and from different platforms.

Attributes described below represent those in the original dataset provided by the provider.
Only minimum required attributes are visible and downloadable online. Other attributes may be obtained upon provider's permission.

Attributes in dataset

Attribute (table column)Description
trip_codedefinition not provided
tripkeyA unique number to identify each record in the trip tables.
dateThe date of the observation.
timeThe time of the observation.
posmarkA character to represent the status of the base record along the line transect.
latitudeLatitude in decimal degrees.
longitudeLongitude in decimal degrees.
seastateSea state
floatingThe presence of fishing vessels during part of the recording period.
trans_indTransect indicator. 1: Out of transect. 2: In transect.
sp_obsEURING species code.
tsnITIS taxonomic serial number.
scientificScientific name.
rankRank of the species.
numberThe number of birds, cetaceans or turtles counted or estimated for each record.
behaviourWhat the species was doing when observed.
distanceThis is the distance at which birds were observed.
dir_assThe code represents the direction in which the bird or cetacean is travelling.
associatnAssociations between related individuals
preySpecies that the observed animal was feeding on, if any.
geomdefinition not provided
oidUnique ID number (generated by SEAMAP)
Marine mammals7,736
Sea turtles8
Rays and sharks75
Other species7,563
Non spatial0
Non species214
Date, Begin1979-06-29
Date, End2000-09-24
Temporal prec.111111
Latitude38.63 - 76.85
Longitude-28.85 - 14.90
Coord. prec.6 decimal digits
PlatformShip / Aircraft
Drilling rig
Oil / Gas platform
Support vessel
Data typeAnimal sighting
EffortYES (ID: 428)
Traveled (km)490,260
Effort hours21,625
Contr. throughESAS
Sharing policy CC-BY-NC (Minimum)
Shared with OBIS
GBIF (via DOI)
See metadata in static HTML
See metadata in FGDC XML
See download history / statistics