Seabirds dying by the tens of thousands, perhaps millions, in the Eastern Pacific
All along the west coast of North America from British Columbia south to California beaches are littered with dead seabirds. Most of the dead birds are tiny Cassin’s Auklets. These tiny birds typically live far out to sea and feed on tiny plankton animals such as copepods and krill. But this winter the birds are dying by the tens of thousands as evidenced by the hundreds that wash up on distant shores hundreds of miles from their open ocean pasture feeding areas.
Julia Parish of the University of Washington thinks the 1200 dead birds her group has counted are only a small fraction of the total that likely numbers in the tens of thousands of dead birds.
The birds that have been collected have been found to have starved and show no signs of an oil spill or toxic reaction to something in their food says Lindsay Adams of the Oregon Department of Fish and Game that has seen similar numbers of dead birds on its beaches.
Robert Ollikainen a seabird volunteer walked onto a low sand bar on the Oregon coast the day after Christmas and came across 126 dead birds. “My God, there were so many of them” he said.
While scientists and officials glumly engage in academic debate over this sea bird calamity one thing is indisputable — they are starving to death in horrifying numbers. Those officials can do little but debate as their ocean management policies have explicitly turned a blind eye for decades to acting as caring stewards for vital ocean pastures that provide food for all of ocean life.
Just watch over time as they come up with a thousand reasons to say “it wasn’t us.”
What ocean officials refuse to acknowledge and their blind do nothing policies reinforce is the fact that our oceans are not endless blue wilderness environments capable of sustaining wildlife. Our oceans are in fact collections of ocean pastures just as we have pastures on land. These blue ocean pastures are NOT one endless gift of god pasture of plenty. Ocean pastures like land pastures must have healthy grass/plankton or they cannot sustain animal life.
Sea birds are like canaries in coal mines, their death lets us know the environment is toxic to them and us. Around the world millions of seabirds are starving to death on ocean pastures no longer capable of sustaining life. Pundits and officials seem to say ‘don’t worry about the dead sea canaries, the time to do something is when we see large number of miners dying.’
Millions dead in British Columbia
Along the coast of British Columbia naturalists are just making their first forays to look for dead seabirds. It is rumored that along the tip of Cape Scott, Vancouver Island, the carcasses that have piled up on beaches are too numerous to count. Some local scientists are saying the uncounted dead birds may number in the millions there.
A local resident of the native village of Ucluelet near British Columbia’s Pacific Rim National Park said, “It was disturbing to see all these dead birds,” Mary of Ucluelet, Canada told a local reporter, adding that she had “never seen anything like thing before” in all her years on the West Coast.
We must become stewards of our ocean pastures
Ocean pastures must be cared for and managed with the same care and attention we give pastures and ranges on land. Caring for them begins with the determination to be stewards of these most important environments on this blue planet. The oceans and their pastures cover more than 70% of this planet as opposed to the 18% of the lands of the planet that sustain plant and animal life.
The crisis of ocean pastures is one of our own making. Ocean pastures are in a yin and yang marriage with the land. On land the grass grows in dirt (mineral) and sustains abundant animal life when there is sufficient rain, that rain originates as water evaporating from the oceans, it is a gift from the ocean to the land. Plankton in ocean pastures grows in water and what it needs for life to flourish is dust, minerals, from the land. When the dust rains down on the ocean pastures they bloom just as when the rain falls upon the land. Life flourishes.
Today the crisis facing ocean pastures is that high and rising CO2 in our air feeds plants on land. In the past century 44% more CO2 has accumulated in the air and that CO2 is making the grass grow lush and green all over the worlds lands.
More grass growing means less dust blowing. Less dust blowing means the ocean pastures have been in a state of increasingly devastating drought collapse for many decades.
The PROOF – the sea canaries are dead!
Jacque Cousteau was admonished for saying that based on his lifelong experience with the oceans that the great crisis was that we do not take an active role in caring for them.
“We must tend the sea and herd its animals … using the sea as shepherds instead of hunters. That is what civilization is all about — caring for ocean pastures replacing hunting.”
Seabirds starving almost every year
The mass starvation of seabirds this winter is not something new, mass seabird starvations have become a frequent occurrence. Last winter in the Eastern Atlantic the largest seabird death toll ever was recorded as seabirds there starved by the millions. Here’s a post about the ocean canaries dying off the coast of the British Isles in the winter of 2013-14…
As important as seabirds are in their role as “canaries in a coal mine” whose death warns us of conditions that threaten our own death, that is not their most important role in Nature. Seabirds are vital and active participants in the health and sustenance of the ocean pastures they depend on. Their presence as part of those grand ocean pasture ecosystems helps to sustain those pastures… here’s a link to a post about how seabirds work for ocean life.
The solution is at hand
There is something we must and can do to save the ocean pastures of the seabirds. We must restore and replenish those ocean pastures. Not by standing back and pointing fingers of blame at others but shouldering the blame of our own. It is our individual and collective gluttony in the use of fossil fuels and our incessant ‘in the face’ of every other life form on earth refusal to stop blowing our smoke into their faces and lives and doing nothing more than the token screwing in another compact fluorescent light bulb.
Restoring and replenishing ocean pastures is simple, inexpensive, and immediately effective.
We here at Ocean Pastures have done it and proven it returns incredible benefits to all of ocean life and to us. By restoring and replenishing ocean pastures we bring back the fish for all… seabirds, whales, seals, bigger fish, and humans. Read more about Ocean Pastures here…
We bring back the fish… and the birds….and the seals…. sea lions… whales…. all of ocean life by bringing back the plankton of the ocean pastures.