Scientists Investigate Hundreds of Murres Kills on Britain’s Coast | Wildlife
Several hundred seabirds have been found dead along the coasts of northeast England and Scotland, while many have been found emaciated.
The British Center for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), which is investigating the cause of death, said the majority of the birds were murres.
Bird carcasses have been found along the Scottish coast and near the coasts of Northumberland and North Yorkshire. Puffins and kittiwakes have also been affected, but on a smaller scale than murres and razorbills.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said that while the exact cause remained unknown, the climate crisis was exacerbating the factors leading to the plummeting seabird populations.
“Extreme weather conditions, pollution and disease can kill seabirds,” the RSPB said. “If prey fish are scarce, seabirds can be weakened by starvation. We don’t know the exact cause here, but we do know that climate change is lowering the number of prey fish in our seas and creating more extreme weather events.
“The world is in a crisis of nature and climate, humans and wildlife are already suffering the impacts. We need urgent action from governments to help revive our world. “
CEH environmentalist Dr Francis Daunt told the BBC that many murres were found starving. He said: “The birds are emaciated – they have little more than skin and bones, at almost half their usual weight, which is catastrophically low.”
He told the broadcaster that there had been “signs that the birds are desperate in their search for food”, noting that they have “fed very close to the beaches among the swimmers” although they generally avoid people. . Daunt said they were also seen up to 20 miles upstream of the river, which he described as “unheard of.”
In 2015, a study found that global seabird populations had fallen by almost 70%, or around 230 million animals, in just 60 years.
Lead author of the study, Michelle Paleczny, said seabirds were “a particularly good indicator of the health of marine ecosystems.” She added, “When we see this magnitude of seabird decline, we can see that there is something wrong with marine ecosystems. This gives us an idea of the overall impact that we have.
Six of the 25 species of seabirds found in Britain and Ireland are on the UK’s Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern.