Pacific Coast sea bird die-off puzzles scientists

SALEM, Ore. (AP) – 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, California.

Julia Burco of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife tells the Salem Statesman Journal (http://stjr.nl/1CZBwvU ) that the birds appear to be starving to death, so experts don’t believe a toxin is the culprit.

But why the birds can’t find food is a mystery.

Researchers say it could be the result of a successful breeding season, unusually violent storms or changes in ocean chemistry.

Bird carcasses have been sent to a federal lab in Wisconsin for more research.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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