East Coast experiencing great shearwater die-off

Great shearwaters normally don’t come close to the coast. Credit: Fyn Kynd

Shearwaters have been washing up on the beach this summer in states along the East Coast of the U.S. Wildlife rehabilitation centers reported great shearwaters (Puffinus gravis) washing up on beaches from North Carolina down to Georgia, mostly dead or in critical condition. Die-offs like this aren’t uncommon, though the frequency and size of the die-offs in parts of the Pacific Northwest have been increasing recently, as discussed in the cover feature of the latest issue of The Wildlife Professional. On the East Coast, 12 great shearwater die-offs were recorded between 1993 and 2011, for example. Georgia Department of Natural Resources biologist Tim Keyes said in Georgia Wild that reduced forage resources could be the cause for birds that also washed up on beaches in that state. But biologists to the north in New England suspected that highly pathological avian influenza could be affecting the birds that washed up dead there.

Read more at the Wilmington Star News.