Thursday, May 16, 2013

MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: Over 130 Dead Seabirds Wash Up On Mandalay Beach In Australia?!

May 16, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - Stormy weather has been blamed for an unusually large spate of native bird deaths on Western Australia's south coast in recent weeks.

The DEC believe storms are responsible for the deaths of 130 birds.

About 130 dead flesh-footed shearwaters have washed up at Mandalay Beach and areas west of Walpole over the past fortnight, according to the Department of Environment and Conservation.

DEC Frankland District nature conservation coordinator Alison McGilvray said about 25 dead birds, which were mostly fledglings and sub-adults, were first discovered on Friday, May 3.

In the days that followed "dozens" of others washed up dead or in poor health.

"Strong winds and high tides caused by early-season winter storms are the most likely cause of the deaths, as these storms impacted on nearby islands where the birds are known to nest," she said in a statement.

"The birds have only recently fledged and left their nesting burrows, and it is likely that high tides impacted the shearwaters' burrows while the storm activity affected the ability of the younger birds, which are not yet at full strength, to fly and feed."

Although young bird deaths in rough conditions was a "natural occurrence" that happened most winters, Ms McGilvray said it was unusual to see so many deaths.

Poisoning was ruled out by Department of Agriculture and Food pathologists who analysed samples of the dead birds.

The birds were found at Mandalay Beach and near Westpole.

"We also appreciate the assistance of the Denmark Veterinary Clinic, which has looked after some of the live birds, while some live birds have been cared for by the Walpole community," Ms McGilvray said.

More than twenty of the surviving birds were released on Tuesday.

"Several birds took flight upon release, which was very heartening to see," Ms McGilvray said.

"We are expecting that the deaths have peaked as the stormy weather has subsided, but will continue to monitor the area over the coming weeks."

DEC encourages people to report sightings of sick or injured wildlife, or any occurrence of mass wildlife deaths, to the Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055 or the nearest DEC office. - The Sydney Morning Herald.

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