- The Washington Times - Monday, July 9, 2007

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Hundreds of dead seabirds washing up along the Southeast coast in recent weeks apparently starved to death, but experts don”t know why.

The deaths of the birds — similar to gulls and called greater shearwaters — have wildlife officials worried about possible changes in the ocean that could have affected the fish that the birds usually eat.

It”s got a lot of folks talking and wondering, said Jennifer Koches, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Is this a canary-in-the-coal-mine issue? Is there something that serious going on out in the ocean that it should be causing us serious alarm?

An estimated 1,000 of the dead birds have been found from the Bahamas to Florida and north to the Carolinas, said Craig Watson, a wildlife biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The birds, which feed on small fish, nest on islands off southern Africa and then migrate north during the summer to the ocean off Canada. Most of the dead birds are juveniles that were born this year.

It does look like they are starving to death,” Mr. Watson said. “They are extremely malnourished.

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