Waterfowl and shorebirds are the primary hosts of influenza A virus (IAV), however, in most surveillance efforts, large populations of birds are not routinely examined; specifically marine ducks and other birds that reside predominately on or near the ocean. We conducted a long-term study sampling sea ducks and gulls in coastal Maine for IAV and found a virus prevalence (1.7%) much lower than is typically found in freshwater duck populations. We found wide year-to-year variation in virus detection in sea ducks and that the ocean water temperature was an important factor affecting IAV prevalence. In particular, the ocean temperature that occurred 11 d prior to collecting virus positive samples was important while water temperature measured concurrently with host sampling had no explanatory power for viral detection. We also experimentally showed that IAV is relatively unstable in sea water at temperatures typically found during our sampling. This represents the first report of virus prevalence and actual environmental data that help explain the variation in marine IAV transmission dynamics.