Quantcast

20,000 Seabirds Mysteriously Wash Up Dead on Dutch Coastline

Animals
Guillemots on Bear Island, the southernmost island of the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago. Gary Bembridge / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

About 20,000 guillemots, a black-and-white seabird of the northern seas, have mysteriously washed up dead on Dutch beaches in recent weeks, according to public broadcaster NOS.

Scientists in the Netherlands now are trying to understand the reason behind the deaths.


"The working hypothesis is that it is a combination of bad weather plus something else, and we are trying to find the smoking gun," Mardik Leopold, a biologist from Wageningen University, told The Guardian. "We have dissected some of the birds. They are clean but they were very skinny, with gut problems, which is indicative of starvation. But we need a larger sample and so have been asking people to collect birds for us."

Leopold told NOS that such mass deaths have not been seen since the 1980s and 1990s. The seabird wrecks have only occurred in the Netherlands, from the island of Schiermonnikoog to Zeeland, the country's westernmost province.

"We do not get these reports from Germany and Belgium," Leopold explained.

The birds that do not show up dead on Dutch beaches are sick, skinny or severely weakened and are taken to animal shelters for treatment.

Guillemots have diets that usually consist of fish, crustaceans and marine invertebrates.

A suggested culprit behind the mass deaths is ingestion of marine pollution and other contaminants. On the night of Jan. 2, a storm caused a large container ship to spill 291 containers and its contents into waters north of the island of Ameland, The Guardian reported. An operation to retrieve the containers has been underway but 50 of them are still unaccounted for.

"We don't know exactly what was in the containers but there will inevitably be plastic and chemicals," Leopold told the publication.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Kissing bug. Pavel Kirillov / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that the kissing bug, which can transmit a potentially deadly parasite, has spread to Delaware, ABC News reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
"Take the pledge today." Screenshot / StopFoodWasteDay.com

Did you know that more than a third of food is wasted or thrown away every year? And that only 25 percent of it would be enough to feed the 795 million undernourished people in the world? That's why today is Stop Food Waste Day, a chance to reflect on what you can do to waste less of the food you buy.

Stop Food Waste Day is an initiative of food service company Compass Group. It was launched first in the U.S, in 2017 and went global the year after, making today it's second worldwide celebration.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

Berries are among the healthiest foods you can eat.

Read More Show Less
Flames and smoke are seen billowing from the roof at Notre-Dame Cathedral on April 15 in Paris, France. Veronique de Viguerie / Getty Images

When Paris's Notre Dame caught fire on April 15, the flames threatened more than eight centuries of culture and history. The fire evoked shock, horror and grief worldwide. While the cathedral burned, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed determination to rebuild what the French regard as a sacred site.

Read More Show Less
An artist's impression of NASA's InSight lander on Mars. NASA / JPL-CALTECH

Scientists have likely detected a so-called marsquake — an earthquake on Mars — for the first time, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced on Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Hero Images / Getty Images

Across the political aisle, a majority of American parents support teaching climate change in schools even though most teachers currently do not.

Read More Show Less
Priit Siimon / flickr / cc

By Andrea Germanos

Lawyer and visionary thinker Polly Higgins, who campaigned for ecocide to be internationally recognized as a crime on par with genocide and war crimes, died Sunday at the age of 50.

She had been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer last month and given just weeks to live.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

An E. coli outbreak linked to ground beef has spread to 10 states and infected at least 156 people, CNN reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less