There is currently an unprecedented and “cataclysmic” die-off of birds on the entire West Coast says Phillip Johnson of the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition. Beaches are covered in dead birds.
A professor describes the situation as “tragic… never seen anything like this… We ignore it at our peril“.
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Prof. Julia Parrish, Univ. of Washington School of Aquatic & Fishery Science, Jan 6, 2015: This is the worst wreck of cassins auklets that we’ve ever seen on the West Coast… Certainly we are concerned… Is it that there’s less of their food, or perhaps that food has changed its distribution?… How many cassins may actually be suffering in this particular mortality event? We’re working with oceanographers and atmospheric scientists to try and discover whether there’s something in the environment which is signaling a difference, signaling a change.
Prof. Parrish #2, Jan 6, 2015: We’re seeing some adults wash up… The bumper crop [born this year] can’t quite explain [this]… We’re easily seeing tens of thousands, if not actually more… Normally [they] can exist out in the N. Pacific [far] from the coastline over the winter. We think that the population for some reason has snugged up to the coast… Unfortunately the cassins are the canary in the coalmine for us, so they’re telling us something is going on. To put it mildly, we’re still scrambling to figure out what’s going on with the ecosystem… Of course, everybody always wants to point the finger at climate change. The thing about climate change is it’s a very slow, steady change.