In a Colony of 40,000, Just Two Penguin Chicks Survived This Year


 

Here's a cheery thought to start the week. All over the world, for the past few years, birds have been starving to death. Some of it is attributable to those clever Chinese climate hoaxsters. Some of it also is attributable to general and casual environmental vandalism. But birds are starving to death all over the world.

(H/t to Ben See—@ClimateBen—on the electric Twitter machine for collecting all the stories.)

They've been starving in Alaska. From the Sydney Morning Herald:

The birds, all of a species known as the common murre, appear to have starved to death, federal wildlife officials say, suggesting disruptions to the supply of herring and other fish that make up the birds' diet. A survey by wildlife officials over the weekend counted more than 8000 dead murres on the shores of one beach near Whittier, about 100 kilometers south-east of Anchorage. Local news video showed bodies of the black-and-white birds scattered on the beach and floating in the water offshore.

Wildlife officials say it's not yet known why the birds are starving. One possible explanation is that the birds' usual food supply - the schools of herring and other small fish usually found near the coast - have not materialized this year, perhaps because of changing climate or this year's extreme El Nino weather pattern. While generally plentiful elsewhere in Alaska, herring populations have been depressed in the Prince William Sound, scene of the 1983 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

They've been starving in Antarctica. From the Guardian:

The awful news that all but two penguin chicks have starved to death out of a colony of almost 40,000 birds is a grim illustration of the enormous pressure Antarctic wildlife is under. The causes of this devastating event are complex, from a changing climate to local sea-ice factors, but one thing penguins, whales and other marine life don’t need is additional strain on food supplies.

 Alaska Bird Deaths, Whittier, USA

They've been starving in Australia. From the BBC:

Seabirds are starving to death on the remote Lord Howe Island, a crew filming for the BBC One documentary drowning in Plastic has revealed. Their stomachs were so full of plastic there was no room for food..."These birds are generalist predators," explained marine biologist Jennifer Lavers who works with the shearwater colony. "They'll eat just about anything they're given. That's what's allowed them to thrive - a lack of pickiness. "

But when you put plastic in the ocean, it means they have no ability to detect plastic from non-plastic, so they eat it." Parent birds unwittingly feeding plastic to their chicks’ means that the birds emerge from their burrows with stomachs filled with plastic, and with insufficient nutrition to enable them set out to sea and forage for themselves.

They've been starving in the Netherlands. From phys.org:

On the line was a coast-watch volunteer calling to tell him of reports of hundreds of dead guillemots washing up along the country's shores. "The next morning, my phone rang red-hot from callers all over reporting dead birds," Leopold, based at Wageningen University's marine research department in the northern port city of Den Helder, told AFP. "Alarm bells started ringing." Since early January, more than 20,000 dead guillemots have washed up dead on Dutch beaches—from the northern Wadden Islands to southwestern Zeeland..."All the birds show signs of severe starvation and we don't know why," said Leopold.

Comments