Sea slime killing hundreds of seabirds in the US

October 31st, 2009 - 3:05 pm ICT by ANI  

National Geographic Washington, October 31 (ANI): Scientists have said that sea slime, which comes from algae blooms in the ocean, is causing hundreds of seabirds in the US to die.

According to a report in National Geographic News, hundreds of birds are washing up on the shores of the US Pacific Northwest, coated with a foamy sea slime.

The slime saps the waterproofing ability of the birds’ feathers.

“If you had somebody dump water on you and rub soap all over you, you’d be wet and slimy,” said Jay Holcomb, executive director at the International Bird Rescue Research Center.

That’s essentially what happens to the birds, after their waterproofing is compromised.

“Then they have to beach themselves, because they are cold and wet,” said Holcomb.

Untold hundreds have died, succumbing to hypothermia or predators such as eagles, he added.

Unlike an oil spill, the algae blooms that create the slime occur naturally when certain conditions coincide in the ocean.

Those include upwelling of nutrients and warmer-than-usual ocean waters.

Research suggests that recently, the blooms are larger, lasting longer, and happening with greater frequency.

Warming sea temperatures due to global warming could be a link, according to Holcomb.

“They are finding that the (nutrient) upwelling is happening at different times of the year than it used to, and that’s because currents and weather are changing,” he said.

Nearly 500 of the slimed birds have been transported to the rescue center in Fairfield, California, which was specially built to care for coastal wildlife contaminated with oil.

Many of the slime victims have been released.

Several hundred more birds are also being treated at facilities in Oregon and Washington State. (ANI)

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