Winter storms a few months ago brought reports of thousands of sea birds dead on the beaches of Europe.
We reported the dire state of seabirds in with our Poof Go The Puffins post early this year.
How is it that it that we can become distressed and hungry at the same time about the news of how our appetite for fossil fuel is harming the planet, but we cannot come to grips with doing anything about it save pointing fingers of blame. Last winter we wrote about how the sea birds of Europe, ocean canaries, were facing starvation as ocean pastures near and far to their shoreline habitats have been desperately depleted of plankton.
Many others reported on the same disaster.. including this story by the British Wildlife Trusts.
The sea birds of Europe, like Canaries in European coal mines, were signaling in their death throes that something was terribly deadly wrong with the environment in which they, and we, live. Poof go the puffins, they are all flocking dying. We must help.
Now the toll of the storms of last winter and spring and the disaster of thousands of dead birds found on beaches has been confirmed. Throughout Europe and especially in Ireland 41% of the native seabirds have disappeared according to a new study just out.
Those birds on the western coast experienced a deadly combination of lack of plankton and forage fish near to shore and the worst weather in living memory between last October and March. Birdwatch Ireland says the deadly combo proved too much for some seabird species to withstand.
“Nothing much was detected until early in the New Year, when reports of dead or emaciated birds on beaches in Ireland and elsewhere began to trickle in,” said Birdwatch Ireland senior conservation officer Stephen Newton. “The trickle then became a flood by February and March, and obviously people began sending in ringing recoveries to the national schemes in France, the UK and Ireland.”
“In a typical winter, we may receive one or two [ringing] recoveries, but the winter of 2013/2014 produced nearly 100.”
He said the far-ranging birds like the common guillemot took the biggest hit here, with 42 reported dead. This was followed by the razorbill (33 mortalities), Atlantic puffin (six mortalities) and black guillemot (six mortalities). The figures do not account for the hundreds more that surely were never seen and counted.
Birdwatch Ireland has now completed summer censuses at some of the country’s most important seabird breeding sites which also bear out the statistics in relation to last winter’s severe mortality rate.
“For example, in 2011 and 2012, we had 90 and 92 pairs of black guillemots on Rockabill. This summer, we only have 54 pairs — a 41% decline — and many prime nest holes are vacant,” said Dr Newton. “On Wicklow Head, the numbers of breeding common guillemots and razorbills declined by 41% and 29% respectively since the count in 2009.”
Yes, something can be done.
It takes determination and willingness to be not merely observers and behind the scenes be the cause of the seabird demise though our emission of ocean pasture killing CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels. We can become stewards of the ocean pastures where beautiful seabirds flourish. It’s not so difficult but it will take a commitment to begin and keep at it until we find an alternative to fossil fuels.
We simply have to restore and replenish the ocean pastures and bring them back to the state of health and abundance that we and the seabirds enjoyed 100 years ago. In the bargain we’ll Bring Back The Fish, both forage fish for our Puffins and Guillemots and an abundance of all the fish and life in our seas.
It just works! I have done it and proven it is productive, safe, affordable, and works immediately with the large ocean pasture restoration in the NE Pacific is 2012. Along with the intensive and extensive science we performed before, during, and continuing today the salmon of the NE Pacific have brought the most dramatic proof.
The largest abundance of salmon in all of history are presently filling rivers and streams from Alaska south to the Columbia River. More than 500 million additional salmon are being counted more than double any previous count of salmon in the last century. With the salmon the seas are filled with great whales, sea lions, porpoise, and all manner of ocean life.