Wildlife officials find thousands of dead seabirds in Alaska
A massive die-off of seabirds in Alaska has scientists scrambling to determine the scope and cause.
Thus far, approximately 8,000 dead members of the common murre species have been recorded in the area known as Whittier, around the Prince William Sound.
And, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the death toll could ultimately reach the low five-figure range.
While mass deaths of the black and white birds have happened before in the wintertime, officials say the scale of this event is unusual.
The cause is thought to be related to starvation, as the murres' bodies appeared thin and emaciated.
The source of the malnutrition could be related to wind gusts which pushed the birds off track or warming waters that forced prey deeper down and out of reach.
Disease has also been mentioned as a possible factor, but a limited examination of carcasses found no such evidence.
Among the next steps is an assessment of less accessible beaches.
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