‘The Blob,’ Food Supply Squeeze to Blame for Largest Seabird Die-Off


The common murre is a self-sufficient, resilient bird.

The common murre is a self-sufficient, resilient bird.

Though the seabird must eat about half of its body weight in prey each day, common murres are experts at catching the small “forage fish” they need to survive. Herring, sardines, anchovies and even juvenile salmon are no match for a hungry murre.

So when nearly one million common murres died at sea and washed ashore from California to Alaska in 2015 and 2016, it was unprecedented — both for murres, and across all bird species worldwide. Scientists from the University of Washington, the U.S. Geological Survey and others blame an unexpected squeeze on the ecosystem’s food supply, brought on by a severe and long-lasting marine heat wave known as “the blob.”

Their findings were published Jan. 15 in the journal PLOS ONE.

Read more at University of Washington

Photo Credit: 12019 via Pixabay