How a 'blob' of hot Pacific Ocean water killed 1 million seabirds
17 Janvier, 2020, 14:53 | Auteur: Therese Cote
Their starved carcasses lay on the coasts from California to the Gulf of Alaska.
These few degrees of warming have wreaked havoc on the region's marine ecosystems.
About 62,000 dead or dying murres washed up on shore - but the total number of deaths is likely to be closer to one million since only a small fraction of birds that die at sea wash up, said researchers from the University of Washington, who published the study in the journal Plos One on Wednesday. This makes it the largest seabird die-off in recorded history.
The study also found that as the murres population was decreasing, so was their ability to reproduce.
But this still doesn't explain the murres.
Common grumbling is the master of their universe.
If the fish move, they can move, too. "The death of all of these murres suggests to us that those large fish were also having a hard time and the reason why we know about the murres is, a dead bird floats but a fish sinks", Parrish said.
Melanie Smith, a director based in Alaska for the National Audubon Society's Migratory Bird Initiative, who was not affiliated with the study, recalls seeing murres as far inland as Fairbanks.
"The grumbling was so desperate for food that it went to places they had never seen before", said Smith. "They're squarely an ocean species and don't belong in freshwater environments at all. It was a clear sign that something was wrong".
Reproductive rates in murre colonies from California to the Bering Sea also plummeted alarmingly. Colonies that had been stable for decades no longer laid eggs.
Damage to the murre population will continue for years, with some colonies failing to produce a single chick because of depleted breeding stocks, researchers say. If they don't, they can starve in three to five days, Piatt said.
"These birds are so productive and efficient", said Piatt. "This just doesn't happen". "In the ocean, this heatwave lasted two or three years".
"Did that get my attention?" "This level of mortality and over this range is just mind blowing".
Piatt and his colleagues looked again at the food supply, but through a different lens.
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Des prévisions très éloignées de l'objectif fixé par l'Accord de Paris de 2015 de limiter ce réchauffement de 1,5 à 2 °C. En 2019, celles-ci se sont établies 0,98 °C au-dessus de celles de la période 1951-1980.
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