Dead Birds Do Tell Tales  

Posted by Big Gav

Wired has another ominous tale of the sea. Concerns are increasing about disappearing snow and ice from the mountains as well.

I wonder if anyone tries to tell any positive stories (assuming there are any) about global warming ? Wired did once try to see the sunny side of this unfolding disaster (warmer water apparently leads to larger squid and therefore bigger calamari) but only succeeded in being extremely annoying. The Economist has also had a few stories about Russian entrepreneurs talking up the prospects for north polar shipping as the ice disappears. Small consolation.

With a record number of dead seabirds washing up on West Coast beaches from Central California to British Columbia, marine biologists are raising the alarm about rising ocean temperatures and dwindling plankton populations. "Something big is going on out there," said Julia Parrish, an associate professor in the School of Aquatic Fisheries and Sciences at the University of Washington. "I'm left with no obvious smoking gun, but birds are a good signal because they feed high up on the food chain."

Coastal ocean temperatures are 2 to 5 degrees above normal, which may be related to a lack of updwelling, in which cold, nutrient-rich water is brought to the surface. On Washington beaches, bird surveyors in May typically find an average of one dead Brandt's cormorant every 34 miles of beach. This year, cormorant deaths averaged one every eight-tenths of a mile. "This is somewhere between five and 10 times the highest number of bird deaths we've seen before," she said, adding that she expected June figures to show a similar trend.

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