Science

Pacific 'blob' heatwave feared to have killed a million birds

Pacific 'blob' heatwave feared to have killed a million birds”

The analysis revealed that about 62,000 dead or dying birds washed onto beaches during the die-off event, but carcass recovery estimates suggest that about 1 million died in total. Using data from almost 5,800 beach surveys, public reports, and data from dozens of seabird rehab centers from Alaska to California, the researchers concluded the die-off was much higher.

During the 2015 breeding season, three colonies did not produce a single chick.

The blob was up to 6 degrees Celsius above typical maximum temperatures in places and extended to a depth of 200 metres, and more than 3,000 kilometres up the United States coastline into Alaska.

Other fish, birds and mammals also died in the same period.

The study noted that scientists have also recently identified another marine heatwave forming off the Washington coast and up into the Gulf of Alaska in the US.

Their findings appear in the journal PLOS ONE.

Their study used a combination of data gathered by citizen scientists, government, university and private organisations, and wildlife rehabilitation centres, to conclude that the common murres were caught in an "ectothermic vice" - basically, a squeezing of the murre's food supply from above and below. With their powerful wings, they can dive more than 150 feet (46 meters) under water to nest on capelin, sand lance, herring, sardine and juvenile coalfish.

US Geological Survey biologist John Piatt, the lead author on the study and an affiliate of the university, said the discoveries made were "astonishing and alarming".

"As the bottom of the ecosystem was shifting in not good ways, the top of the ecosystem was demanding a lot more food", Parish said.

Whereas these blobs of unusually warm seawater are uncommon, scientists converse that global warming is making them more of a abnormal incidence.

"It sort of hit me -no wonder things were so screwed up, no wonder this thing hit so hard, because the four-inch species is at the heart of all this for the murres, the rhinos, the tufteds the humpbacks", Piatt said.

"The quality of the food they wanted to eat was getting poor."
These fish eat the same small fish as the guillemots, and there just wasn't enough to go around.

On the other side of the "vice" were the murre's competitors - ectothermic or cold-blooded fish like Pacific cod and halibut, which compete with the murre for food. "These heatwaves are going to have jarring effects on our ecosystems", said Piatt. If they don't, they can starve within three to five days, Piatt said.

Did Australia's mutton birds suffer the same fate?

Birdwatcher Peter Barrand told the ABC at the time that we could be "looking at an extinction event".

The study warned that it remains unknown how long it would take for the population to recover - or whether it would even recover, "given the predicted global warming trends and the associated likelihood of more frequent heat waves".

"We'll have a better idea in March when we do the annual monitoring", Professor Arnould said. Not only did the population decline dramatically, but the murres couldn't replenish those numbers.

"To understand what's happening in the environment you have to monitor regularly", he said.

In many ways, the murres are the flawless climate change bellweather. According to the study, the last 5 years were the hottest with 2016 taking the lead and 2019 coming in a close second.

And ocean warming has been greatest in the Atlantic and Southern Oceans. "There's very little else that could have caused the extensive effects they document", says Andrew Leising at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

But the common murre die-off was by far the largest recorded by all metrics ― overall number, duration and geographic extent ― the area affected was equivalent in size to Canada.

"As we looked we discovered that there were actually two very large die-offs in the 2010s - in this decade", he said.



Like this

loading...
loading...

Latest


19 January 2020
LSU DC Dave Aranda To Be Next Head Coach At Baylor
Seeing the unity of the team and the togetherness of their play really illustrated a strong culture. Less than a week after the Sugar Bowl , Rhule was announced as the next Panthers coach.

19 January 2020
BJP announces alliance with Pawan Kalyan-led Jana Sena in Andhra Pradesh
Both parties fared poorly in the state assembly elections in 2019, which were held concurrently with the Lok Sabha elections. A coordination committee would soon be established with the heads of the two parties to advance their agenda.

19 January 2020
Warrant for Browns' Odell Beckham Jr. rescinded in butt-slap case
As they celebrated their victory over Clemson , LSU players were seen smoking cigars, an activity forbidden in the Superdome. Beckham was slapped with an arrest warrant as a result, but things have since changed, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter .

19 January 2020
Fowler and Scheffler set pace at La Quinta
Laurent Hurtubise , who was born with one arm, made a hole-in-one on the 151-yard fourth hole of PGA West's Stadium Course. Speaking to the PGA , he said: "It was one of those shots where you always thought, hang on - this could go in here".

19 January 2020
Clashes Shake Beirut as Anti-Government Protests Explode in Violence
Protesters in Beirut threw stones and water bottles at security forces, who responded with water cannons and tear gas. Dozens were detained for several nights after clashes on Tuesday and Wednesday, before being released.

19 January 2020
Experts sound alarm over scale of China virus
Nancy Messonnier, the director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on a call with reporters. While the overall risk to people in the United States is low , "we know it's crucial to be proactive and prepared", Dr.

19 January 2020
Another winter storm heading for Richmond Friday night
The storm is predicted to arrive later Friday evening and could cause snow and freezing rain overnight, Environment Canada said. Forecasters say the rain will also bring a chance of flooding to several municipalities as the snow starts to melt.

19 January 2020
Ninja and other celebrities are getting Fortnite skins
Along with the Ninja Outfit, you can also nab Ninja's Edge Back Bling, Ninja Style Emote, and Dual Katanas Pickaxe. We had already witnessed a similar event when Fortnite collaborated with Marshmello and Major Lazer.

18 January 2020
Reece James signs an impressive long-term contract with Chelsea
The 20-year-old, who was loaned to Wigan Athletic last season, has become an important part of the first team this season. James admitted that he was over the moon to sign a new deal with Chelsea, for whom he has played since the age of six.

18 January 2020
Saracens to be relegated for salary cap breaches
Sarries had already been deducted 35 points for this season's Premiership campaign and fined £5.3m for three seasons' spending above the cap.