The oil tanker Prestige, with a 77000-tonne cargo of heavy fuel oil, was badly damaged on 13 November 2002 off the Galician coast (NW Spain), where it leaked about 63 000 tonnes of oil. During the winter of 2002 and spring of 2003, we studied the degree of oil contamination in the plumage of the Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus. Using the Generalized Estimated Equations (GEE), we evaluated the hypothesis that the presence of oiled birds in the breeding period could be influenced by 1) the location of the beach (estuarine versus non-estuarine), 2) the presence of an intertidal area in the lagoon associated with the beach, 3) the distance from the initial spill location and 4) the month. The worst affected body parts were the abdomen, and, to a lesser extent, the breast. The location of the beach was the only predictor included in the final model. The beaches with the highest average scores of oiled birds were those located on the non-estuarine coast. The other two predictors with significant parameters in the univariate analysis were the distance from the initial spill location and the month.
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