Florida Fish and Wildlife: More than 150 birds found dead on Central Florida beaches
Birds galore in New Smyrna Beach
Headline Surfer photos by Sera Frederick / These photos, taken in 2008 on New Smyrna Beach, are indicative of the array of birds on the beaches of Central Florida.
NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Researchers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have received reports of more than 150 dead or distressed greater shearwaters, gull-like birds, along Florida’s east coast in Brevard, Indian River, St. Johns and Volusia counties this week.
After examining some of the birds, researchers believe these deaths are related to stress from the species’ long, trans-Atlantic migration.
Greater shearwaters migrate from their primary breeding grounds in Tristan da Cunha, a group of islands off the southwest coast of Africa, across the Atlantic to Canada, according to the Peterson Field Guide for Eastern Birds.
“This long migration, coupled with storms and high winds, can take its toll on some immature and older shearwaters, sapping their strength and making it difficult to feed,” said Dan Wolf, an FWC research biologist. “Upon examination of some of the dead greater shearwaters this week, we found the birds were young and emaciated, consistent with normal migration mortality.”
Birds are a typical sight over the sand and surf of New Smyrna Beach.
Migration-related deaths of greater shearwaters occur every year around this time, though the number varies.
In 2007, researchers received reports of about 1,000 dead shearwaters during the migratory season.
Since Monday, citizens and wildlife rehabilitators from Vero Beach north to Ponte Vedra have reported finding these dead birds in areas along the shoreline.
Because greater shearwaters live most of their lives on the open sea, the deaths are only seen alongshore when winds are blowing inshore. The public can report dead birds to the FWC online at MyFWC.com/Bird. Anyone who encounters a dead or distressed bird is asked not to handle it. For assistance with sick or injured birds, citizens should contact a local wildlife rehabilitative facility.
About the Blogger
Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer, the award-winning 24/7 internet newspaper in Lake Mary serving Central Florida via HeadlineSurfer.com. Florida's first around-the-clock newspaper was launched April 7, 2008, in New Smyrna Beach, initially as NSBNews.net and VolusiaNews.net. Headline Surfer is a registered trademark of NSB News LLC. Frederick was the top winner in the 2012 Florida Press Club contest: 1st place for Blog Writing & 3rd place each for General News Writing, Public Safety Reporting & Best Online Presence (with social media). He's received 18 major journalism awards as a breaking news, investigative reporter & city editor for daily newspapers in Florida, Massachusetts, New York & Connecticut since the mid-1980s.
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