Thousands of seabirds have been found dead or starving off the Northumberland and Scottish coasts – with some experts blaming climate change.
The sheer number of discovered carcasses – including guillemots, razorbills, puffins and kittywax – have been called “unprecedented” by experts.
Birdwatchers have reported hundreds of dead animals washing up on beaches, while hundreds have been seen swimming in the ocean. Some bodies have been raised inland, along rivers.
They have been discovered in the past four weeks from north east England to Orkney – some 300 miles away.
“The birds have become emaciated – they are little more than skin and bone, weighing more than half their normal weight,” said CEH ecologist Dr Francis Dant.
He said one possible cause of the suffering was poisoning from algal blooms – but others have said climate change is almost certainly a contributing factor.
As the east coast sea warms, sand eels, whitefish and other traditional prey for seabirds appear to move deeper under the water, effectively keeping them out of reach of their flying predators. let’s do it.
Keith Marley, who runs the New Ark Wildlife Rescue Center in Aberdeenshire, said he was sure the devastation was caused at least in part by global warming.
“I have no doubt that it is related to climate change,” he said. “It’s been confirmed that it’s not bird flu and you don’t find toxic events affecting such a large area, so you have to look at the circumstances and the clear conclusion is that changes in sea water temperatures are having an effect.” Is.
“It’s the smaller birds that we see mostly dying and they are the ones that can’t go deep enough to reach their prey that that would seem to be the issue.”
He said that while his center was able to save some of the birds found on nearby beaches, by the time they were swept to land, many were so badly starved that, if they were still alive, their Nothing could be done for it.
“The birds we are seeing are tired, underweight, battered,” he said. “The numbers are absolutely phenomenal.”
While such mysterious mass deaths aren’t entirely uncommon—they can be caused by anything from bird flu to bad weather—the wide range of suffering has made it particularly noteworthy.
The CEH is now recording the number and location of all the dead birds and will conduct the postmortem of their carcasses.
It will then monitor breeding colonies the following spring to see if the numbers have dwindled.
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