For those fretting about the effect of the Gulf spill on seabirds, fret not for the greater shearwaters. Yes, some 35 of those majestic birds have been found dead along the South Florida coast, from Delray to Cocoa Beach, but the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission assures us that they weren't slain by that big unnatural disaster to the west.
From a news release about the dead shearwaters:
"These birds are generally juveniles with empty stomachs, with no fat stores, and are severely underweight," said Daniel Wolf, the FWC's avian influenza coordinator. "We are certain that these are not oil-related casualties."The release says that some 800 greater shearwaters perished in 2007, when the Deepwater Horizon wasn't belching oil into the ocean.Juvenile greater shearwaters are not as able as adults at putting on enough fat stores to make the long trip from their breeding grounds on Tristan da Cunha Island off the coast of South Africa to their summer home in New England. They are often spotted where whales are feeding or behind fishing boats as they clean fish. Storms at sea can cause dehydration and eventual death.