Warming Ocean Cause of Starving Seabirds

C. Coimbra photo

C. Coimbra photo

Editor’s Note:  This story ran on local news on October 20, 2015.  To see the video, click this link: Dead Seabirds on the Central Coast

From KSBY News:

Dead birds have become an eyesore for many people hitting the beach lately.

Officials say it is not just a scene on the Central Coast but up and down California’s coastline.

Peaceful family beach time quickly took an unpleasant turn for the Augusto family visiting from Hanford.

“When we were walking down there were a bunch of dead birds. There are like four or five just coming from down here,” explains Whitney Augusto while visiting Pismo Beach. “You will see like one or two, but not this many, ever.”

It is a disturbing scene of washed up and lifeless birds scattered across the shoreline.

“It is kind of gross walking up and seeing a dead bird right there, it looks like an epidemic to me,” says Norco resident Kristin Anderson visiting Pismo Beach with her kids.

It’s a similar picture to what KSBY reported one year ago; however, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife could not nail down a cause back then.

At the same office on Thursday, KSBY asked again what these deaths could be from.

“We are seeing starvation, these birds are emaciated,” says Senior Environmental Scientist John Thompson, Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Thompson claims it is the changing weather pattern with El Niño conditions and the boost in ocean temperatures.

“Particularly the water temperatures have made a difference from where the fish are,” explains Thompson.

Fish are going deeper for the cooler water, making it almost impossible for the birds to get a catch. Not several, but hundreds are starving and dying along the coast.

The sick and dying birds are filling up facilities like Pacific Wildlife Care in Morro Bay. Officials say 55 Brandt’s Cormorants came into the facility in the past week.

“It is certainly not common to see them starving,” says President of Pacific Wildlife Care, Meg Crockett. “A lot of them died, a lot of people are finding them in the beach already dead.”

More than 450 Common Murres have been dropped off at the Morro Bay facility since August 1. Usually, officials say, they get about 30 of the birds a year. In a tub, several of the hundreds that survived swam around Thursday, still healing from being starved.

“The conditions of the oceans, it is hard to know,” says Crockett. “There is a lot going on and it is very much affecting wildlife.”

Department of Fish and Wildlife officials say all fish-eating birds are affected at this time.

Officials say there is nothing people can do to help the dying birds. However, you can report dead or sick bird sightings to Pacific Wildlife Care. They are also in need of volunteers.

Categories: Condition of Oceans, Seabirds

Tags: , ,

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