Unusual weather patterns along the West Coast may be responsible in killing the seabirds, scientists say. There are mass starvation deaths of murres on Tatoosh Island off the Olympic Peninsula.
Some marine food is crucial to the seabirds’ diet. The winds and currents necessary to maintain this network wasn’t there last year. And to add on to it, breeding failures during the summer were preceded by tens of thousands of birds washing up dead on beaches in Washington, Oregon and California. The normal fledge count of the glaucous-winged gulls plummeted from 8,000 chicks to 88 last year. It is this period, when the state’s largest colony suffered the most. Though the breeding failure isn’t expected to harm the birds’ overall population, it has raised questions for ‘obvious reasons’.
But, what is the source of the strange weather? In search of a reply to this, researchers met over the issue earlier this month in Seattle, but came up with unsatisfactory conclusions — except to consider global warming’s effects in the past year.