Thursday, October 29, 2009

Algae bloom kills Pacific NW seabirds

A bloom of Akashiwo sanguinea on the ocean shores of Washington and northern Oregon has killed hundreds of seabirds, according to a report by Lynne Terry of The Oregonian newspaper. The algae turns into a sticky froth in the surf. This soap-like foam destroys the waterproofing in the seabirds feathers.

The article says that in September it was mostly scoters that were killed off Washington State in a rare outbreak. Experts were surprised when another outbreak struck again in October, this time hitting primarily murres, loons, and grebes.

Western Grebe
Western Grebe
Many birds have appeared on the beach, resting, but otherwise appearing healthy. Those less healthy are being treated by rehabilitators, which were temporarily overwhelmed. The Wildlife Center of the North Coast, in Astoria, Oregon, arranged to fly about 300 birds to another facility in California.

On Monday, October 26, 2009, volunteer rescue worker Mike Patterson of Astoria, Oregon, helped pack up the following birds for transport:
161 Common Murre
73 Western Grebe
33 Red-throated Loon
17 Common Loon
2 Pacific Loon

Update: Here is another article with photos and a video clip from The Daily Astorian.


  1. That should Mike Patterson _helped_ pack up 300 birds...

    Birds were also sent north to PAWS in Seattle and Portland Audubon. By the end of the event close to 600 birds were sent to other facilities.

    --Mike Patterson