Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘foam’

October 27, 2009

Your help needed to save algae slimed seabirds

Dear friends,

I am contacting you to ask for your urgent help. Thousands of seabirds are dying along the coast of Oregon and Washington state, soiled by an unusual sea slime caused by algal blooming. Hundreds more birds, still fighting for their lives, have washed up on nearby beaches.

International Bird Rescue (IBRRC) is in a race against time to save Red-throated Loons and other sensitive migratory birds from this catastrophe and to relieve overwhelmed local wildlife groups. Nearly two hundred seabirds have already been transported to California where our experienced team has the best chance of saving them. Thanks to the U.S. Coast Guard, 305 more arrived today. See update

Because of the shear number of casualties, International Bird Rescue is treating this emergency as an oil spill, with one significant difference – there is no oil. This means that there is no responsible party and therefore no financial support for our rescue effort. Donate online now

We have mobilized our experienced team but we need your help to save these beautiful birds. We need to find $50,000 to pay for their care – medication, food for the birds and other supplies and equipment. We can only do this with your help. View photos

Please donate online now or send a check and help us reach this financial goal. Your generosity will truly make a world of difference.

With heartfelt thanks,

Jay Holcomb, Executive Director, International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC)

Photo of beached loon: P. CHILTON/Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team

Photo of unloading of birds: Paul Kelway/IBRRC

February 23, 2009

Study: Seabird deaths linked to red-tide foam

An important new study about the 2007 Monterey Bay bird die off is pointing toward a red-tide algae bloom that induced a dangerous sea foam. According to the study, the birds feathers lost their water-repellant nature after being coated with the foam.

The main species in the red tide was a type of dinoflagellate known as Akashiwo sanguinea. The red tide event hit when large numbers of migrating birds had arrived in the area. Also big waves churned up the water creating the sea foam that stripped birds feathers of natural insulating properties.

Birds affected included grebes, loons, northern fulmars, and surf scoters. Stranded birds were found starving and severely hypothermic. Nearly 600 birds were located alive and 207 were found dead during this event.

According to the report, freshly stranded birds had a pungent odor similar to that of linseed oil while still wet, but with time, this material dried, leaving a fine, pale yellow crust with minimal smell.

Raphael Kudela, professor of ocean sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, teamed up with scientists from California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML)–all members of the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS).

These kinds of red-tide events may occur more often in the future, Kulea said. These changes are probably due in part to the effects of climate change on surface water temperatures.

The study alludes to another interesting fact about other compounds in the bay worth studying:

…Extracts of seawater from four areas in northern Monterey Bay heavily impacted by the red tide were analyzed for polar and non-polar compounds by gas- and liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy and were found to be negative for petroleum compounds, commercial surfactants, pesticides, domoic acid, okadaic acid, and microcystin toxins. However, samples of the co-occurring surface foam present at these same sites contained significant concentrations of an organic compound with a predominant chromatographic peak at 1230 mw, corresponding to a m/z 616 dimer composed of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen…

Researchers are releasing this study through an online journal called PLoS One: Mass Stranding of Marine Birds Caused by a Surfactant-Producing Red Tide

Read the Press Release on the UC Santa Cruz website