Seabirds are known to play an important role in the geochemical cycling of macronutrients; however, their role in cycling elements of environmental interest has not been investigated. Guano is an important source of marine-derived nutrients and trace metals in seabird nesting areas, but most of the available information on this topic is derived from local studies. In the present study, we used a bioenergetic model to estimate the amounts of cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg) and lead (Pb) that are deposited via faecal material in seabird colonies worldwide. The findings showed that the seabirds excreted 39.3 Mg (Mg = metric ton or 1000 kg) of Cd, 35.7 Mg of Hg and 27.2 Mg of Pb annually. These amounts are of the same order of magnitude as those reported for other fluxes considered in the geochemical cycling of these elements (e.g. sea-salt spray, cement production, soil loss to oceans). Most of the deposition occurs in circumpolar zones in both hemispheres and, interestingly, high proportions of the metals in the excrements occur in geochemically labile forms, which can be easily leached into coastal waters and assimilated by marine organisms.