Wired News: Dead Birds Do Tell Tales

Nothing to worry about here, move along, move along.

Wired News: Dead Birds Do Tell Tales: "Updwelling is fueled by northerly winds that sweep out near-shore waters and bring cold water to the surface. The process starts the marine food chain, fueling algae and shrimplike krill populations that feed small fish, which then provide a source of food for a variety of sea life from salmon to sea birds and marine mammals.

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, according to data gathered by volunteers with the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, which Parrish has directed since 2000.

'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.

This spring's cool, wet weather brought southwesterly wind to coastal areas and very little northerly wind, said Nathan Mantua, a research scientist with the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington. Without northerly winds, there is no updwelling and plankton stay at lower depths.

'In 50 years, this has never happened,' said Bill Peterson, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Newport, Oregon. 'If this continues, we will have a food chain that is basically impoverished from the very lowest levels.'"

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