Spectacled eider (Somateria fischeri) populations in western Alaska are now less than 4% of the numbers estimated in the early 1970s. In 1992, an estimated 1721 nesting pairs remained on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Causes of this rapid and continuing decline of -14% per year are undocumented. Many aspects of spectacled eider biology remain unknown, including their marine foraging habitats, food items, migratory movements, and population ecology. A review of some biological characteristics and possible threats to the species suggests the importance of quantifying potential impacts from parasites and disease, subsistence harvest, predation during brood rearing, and alteration of Bering Sea food resources. Factors causing the population decline of spectacled eiders must be determined and appropriate actions taken to reverse the trend.