Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Florida investigating deaths of sea birds along east coast

HOBE SOUND -- State wildlife officials are investigating the deaths of scores of sea birds being found along Florida's east coast.
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission has received reports of more than 200 dead or sick shearwaters found along beaches from Hobe Sound to Ponte Vedra Beach since the weekend, the agency said Tuesday.
Scientists are also finding numerous emaciated and dehydrated birds. Commission biologists are trying to determine the cause.
Preliminary findings indicate many of the birds died of starvation during migration, the agency said.
"As only one species appears to be affected and the sick and dead birds have similar symptoms, we believe the seabirds are suffering from the same ailment," said commission biologist Dan Wolf. "In 2005, a similar, but less severe shearwater die-off occurred."
No cause was determined for those deaths.
Shearwaters spend most of their lives far offshore at sea until they breed and need land to nest.

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