POSTED ON JANUARY 4, 2015
The Associated Press
SALEM, Ore. — Scientists are trying to figure out what’s behind the deaths of seabirds that have been found by the hundreds along the Pacific Coast since October.
Mass die-offs of the small, white-bellied gray birds known as Cassin’s aucklets have been reported from British Columbia to San Luis Obispo, Calif.
It’s normal for some seabirds to die during harsh winter conditions, especially during big storms, but the scale of the current die-off is unusual.
“To be this lengthy and geographically widespread, I think is kind of unprecedented,” Phillip Johnson, executive director of the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition, told the Salem Statesman Journal. “It’s an interesting and somewhat mysterious event.”
The birds appear to be starving to death, so experts don’t believe a toxin is the culprit, said Julia Burco, a wildlife veterinarian for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
But why the birds can’t find food is a mystery.