6 01 2011

First up: a correction. In Tuesday’s post, I attributed the wardrobe selection of socks with sandals to Dick Jordan. He informs me that the sandaled individual was actually Ashley Gorr, and that “Unlike the younger generation, I am dressed in enough gear to do Mt McKinley! That is one COLD beach!”

Second, thank you to Dawn Fine and Aimee Moffitt-Mercer who both posted very complimentary comments on the blog of late. As I sit here with my coffee, strenuously exerting myself on this post, it’s motivating to know that you read and enjoy these ramblings.

The number of dead pelicans on Topsail Beach is now approaching 200.

Finally, the post.

Last month, we reported a story out of Topsail Beach in North Carolina where numerous injured pelicans were suspected of having been maliciously harmed. Dead pelicans have continued to wash up on Topsail beach, and some of the carcasses were submitted to the Southeast Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS) at the University of Georgia. Pathologists who examined the birds found no signs of deliberate trauma, and have begun to search for alternative explanations. Algal blooms, foul weather, and entanglement in fishing gear have all been suggested. From the SEANET blogger’s own experience, many of the injuries reported in previous stories (dislocations of wings; neck and head trauma) are consistent with entanglement. SEANET has seen similar incidents in the Carolinas where Northern Gannets were entangled and killed in fishing nets and then apparently thrown overboard after being hauled up with the catch.

At this point in the investigation, there are almost limitless possibilities, and we hope that SCWDS and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission will be releasing their full reports soon. The SEANET blogger would also point out that more than one cause may be at play here, especially since some of the birds found in the past months had been shot, so at least a subset of the animals had been deliberately injured. And of the remaining causes, all of them can interact and potentially amplify each other. SEANET will, of course, continue to share updates as they are released.

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