Dead Cormorants

Posted by  Kenneth Weidner.  (we are looking in to this and will post what we know)

Yesterday, (April 30th, 2009) my wife and I visited Elkhorn Slough for the first time. We were both amazed by beauty of the slough and the abundance of wildlife. However, we came upon what appeared to be a mini-holocaust for cormorants. We tried to count the number of corpses but because they were slightly above us while kayaking; and they were so close together it was difficult. My best guess was at least 10 and possibly as many as 20 dead cormorants in a 6 ft. by 4 ft area. I reported it to the monterey kayaking people but they seemed to think it was a natural occurance. It didn’t appear nautral to me but I’m no expert. I would appreciate comments from someone with expertise. I’ve several photos if you would like to see please send me a request at the email above.

2 Comments On “Dead Cormorants”

  1. Hi Kenneth,
    It looks as though no one has responded to you here so… here’s some of the story. Beginning in April large numbers of cormorants and some other sea birds have been found dead or in severely weakened states. It’s looking as though the Brandt’s are taking a particularly hard hit this year. They are being tested for disease such as NewCastle’s but most of the birds are emaciated which is leading them to believe it’s more a problem with the food source.

    One theory which is typically only seen in El Nino years says that as the seas warm, the fish swim in deeper water and the birds and other animals dependent on those fish are no longer able to reach them and are therefore starving.

    It appears that even the number of harbor seal pups needing rescue by the Marine Mammal Center are up this year with many coming in severely emaciated.

    A link to a group helping the cormorants: http://owcnblog.wordpress.com/2009/05/01/unusual-mortality-event-brandt%E2%80%99s-cormorants/

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