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1/09/2015

Mysterious seabird deaths


Scientists have been trying to figure out the cause of death of many sea birds alongside the shores of the Pacific Coast. The mysterious sea bird deaths number has been increasing since October 2014 and researers are investigating the possible causes.
One of the most affected sea bird species is Cassin’s aucklet, a small gray bird with a white belly. These sea birds have been disappearing from the rocky coasts of British Columbia and their disappearing extended to other areas such as California.
Seabird Survey Team and researchers from the University of Washington’s Coastal Observation have counted at least 1,200 dead birds which have been washed ashore since the fall of 2014. Diane Bilderback, one of the volunteers made sure to note that she had not found any the dead sea birds until the fall season.
The researchers said the sea bird deaths is not the real concern because it’s very common during the cold months, but the real concern is the large number of birds that have been dying recently.
Phillip Johnson, who is the executive director at the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition, said that this is unprecedented, especially in these areas. Scientists first believed that the sea bird deaths were caused by pollution but they have ruled out this possibility when they discovered that the main cause of death is starvation. This makes the researchers wonder as why these sea birds cannot hunt for food.
One of the logical explanations that the scientists think of is the fact that the breeding season of these sea birds was more prolific and a large number of hatchlings must fight for food, especially because of the low supplies.
The scientists said that another explanation behind the sea bird deaths could be the increasing temperatures of the ocean and its recent rising level of acidity. These two factors can kill the sea birds’ main food, which is a fish called zooplankton. These two factors are the results of climate change which seriously damage the ecosystem.
In order to find what really causes the death of so many sea birds during this season, Wisconsin’s Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center will further investigate and conduct necropsies on the birds.
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