Since mid-October, hundreds of dead and dying fulmars have been found beached on California’s shoreline from Northern to Southern California. Necropsies done on five of the dead birds revealed they were juveniles that had starved to death. This is according to a press release on the International Bird Rescue Research Center website.

Northern Fulmars are pelagic seabirds, similar in size to seagulls that belong to the order Procellariiformes, which includes albatross. They breed in colonies on remote islands as far north as the Canadian Arctic and migrate to the Pacific Ocean as far south as Baja California to feed on fish, squid, and shrimp. Researchers are not concerned that the species is in trouble as fulmars are one of the world’s most numerous seabirds. Die-offs of young birds are not uncommon during years of high production.

Still, hundreds of seabirds washing up on a beach sounds weird, doesn’t it? Before public intellectual Gregg Easterbrook went blog-wacky (if you don’t already know, don’t ask) ESPN ran his highly insightful and amusing football column, Tuesday Morning Quarterback.  Nearly every week, he would describe odd statistical trends and glitches as “hidden indicators” that could conceivably expose powerful secrets if read correctly. The fallen fulmars may be a hidden indicator, but of what I have no idea.

Of course, this disturbing news raises a question that I’m sure occurrs to many of our more humane readers out there: “What should I do if I encounter a beached fulmar?”

Good question. The first rule is to do something. If you leave the bird lying in the sand, it will most likely become food for crabs or the like. These stranded seabirds are very weak.

The International Bird Rescue Research Center offers the following advice: Anyone finding fulmars in distress should not leave them on beaches or try and put them back in the water. Throw a towel or jacket over the bird, put it in a box or container with air holes and take it to the nearest animal shelter or wildlife rehabilitation center.

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Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.