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Bill Montevecchi is a seabird expert at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's. ((CBC))

Research indicates that more northern gannets from Newfoundland and Labrador may have run into BP's massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico than previously believed.

Millions of barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year after a BP oil well in the Gulf exploded.

Older research with simple leg tags suggested about five per cent of gannets from eastern Canada migrate to that area annually.

Bird biologist Bill Montevecchi of Memorial University of Newfoundland says more recent research with satellite tags suggested many more of the thousands of birds from eastern Newfoundland are at risk.

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A northern gannet covered in oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill, at a facility in Fort Jackson, La., last spring. ((Alex Brandon/Associated Press))

"Our tagging research that we've just been doing over the past few years indicates that it's not like five per cent, it's more like 35 per cent, " said Montevecchi on Wednesday.

He said it's difficult to say how many northern gannets from Eastern Canada may have died in the oil spill.