Written by Ashlee McEvoy ASAS/ASAP Intern
Early 2016, tens of thousands of common murres washed up starved on beaches from California to Alaska. The cause of this death has now been linked to unusually warm water temperatures that had affected the fish they fed upon.
Volunteers and researchers counted carcasses of 46000 dead murres in Alaska, with another 6000 being found in California, Oregon and Washington. CTV News interviewed John Piatt, a research wildlife biologist in the U.S. Geological Survey. Piatt states that this was only a fraction of the dead birds that would have met the shore. And only fractions of the Alaskan coastline was surveyed, this causes a conservative extrapolation to indicate that more than 500000 common murres died in this time.
“They died of starvation because there was no food. There was no food because there was no fish. And there was no fish because these warm waters did something to them,” Piatt states.