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Seabirds Died From Starvation

Dead guillemot Chesil Beach A THOMAS

2:47pm 5th March 2014

The RSPB have been counting the toll which the recent storms have had on our seabird poplations.

20 different species and more than 1,000 seabirds were found washed up along the Jurassic Coast.

Birds also washed up on beaches elsewhere around the UK (including 600 in Wales) and more than 1,000 have been recorded in the Channel Islands.  

Only a small proportion has been found alive.  Reports are still coming into the RSPB as birds continue to wash up. More than 20 different species have been recorded with the major casualties being auks (guillemots, razorbills and puffins) with smaller numbers of kittiwakes, gannets, fulmars, gulls and shags .

Most dead and live beached birds were `clean' though a small proportion was oiled (for example more than 100 oiled birds reported from SW England beaches).  However the RSPB says that, while any oiled seabird is a concern, these mass deaths are not the result of a major pollution incident.  Post mortem and weighing of some corpses has shown that birds were very underweight and therefore starving.

Dr Euan Dunn, RSPB principal marine advisor, said  "This seabird wreck, on a scale unprecedented in living memory, could have profound impacts on vulnerable seabird breeding colonies, including the Channel Islands and the Isles of Scilly, where puffins have a fragile toehold, and on Lundy, where puffins are starting to recover from near extinction."

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