Image of the Day: Beached Birds

Biologists recover the bodies of puffins from a mass mortality event.

May 30, 2019
Chia-Yi Hou
Tufted puffins (Fratercula cirrhata) found on a beach in Alaska in October 2016
ALEUT COMMUNITY OF ST PAUL ISLAND ECOSYSTEM CONSERVATION OFFICE

Scientists recovered more than 350 bird carcasses from beaches along the Bering Sea in Alaska during a mass mortality event from October 2016 to January 2017. Nearly 80 percent were Tufted puffins (Fratercula cirrhata), they reported in PLOS ONE on May 29. The authors state that the animals were emaciated. Shifts in zooplankton communities and fish distribution in the eastern Bering Sea that happened before the mass mortality event may explain why the birds died, according to the report.

T. Jones et al., “Unusual mortality of Tufted puffins (Fratercula cirrhata) in the eastern Bering Sea,” PLOS ONE, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0216532, 2019.