Update on dead birds on the coast

The PDN has this new update on the situation

9/20 Peninsula Daily News
Seabirds on Northwest coast “chilled to death” by brown algae protein (UPDATE)
By Leah Leach–Peninsula Daily News

LAPUSH — Researchers have confirmed that hundreds of sea ducks found dead and dying on West End beaches were severely chilled rather than poisoned. Several hundred birds — mostly white-winged scoters and surf scoters — have been found ill or dead from Rialto Beach south to the southern portion of Kalaloch beach since last weekend.

The birds are dying of hypothermia at least partially because of a protein from a brown algae called dinoflagellate, Mary Sue Brancato, a resource protection officer with Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, said after receiving preliminary necropsy reports.

When the single-celled algae is beaten apart by waves, it releases a brownish-green foam containing a soapy protein that strips the protective coating of oil from the ducks’ feathers.

More at
http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20090920/NEWS/909209998

One Response

  1. Some friends and I hiked the stretch from Oil City to Third Beach last week, and we were astonished by the numbers of these birds dead or dying around us. Good news, I guess, that this was not a toxin that poisoned these birds, but it is disturbing, and perplexing, as to why, seemingly suddenly, this algae is releasing this protein. Scary. Hiker’s using less than perfect water purification techniques should be aware that we found these birds rotting in many of our water sources.

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