Bird deaths have locals puzzled

Mark Mooney, 7News Adelaide

Bird deaths have locals puzzled

Several dead cormorants found on a Spencer Gulf beach has locals wondering if there is a link to South Australia’s mass fish deaths, but experts are confident there is no connection.

The cormorants, otherwise known as shags, are popular members of the Fisherman Bay community and are often seen diving for food.

While locals say they have never seen anything like the dead birds, experts are confident there is no link to recent fish deaths.

Shags are notoriously shy around humans, so when Jamie Hutchinson was able to walk right up to one on Friday, he knew something was wrong.

“You’d go right up to it and it would just struggle and I’d pick it up and it head just, yeah, it was really in a bad way,” he said.

He found it dead yesterday morning, along with another cormorant, and then discovered another one this morning – this one much younger.

Mr Hutchison said he wondered if it is linked to recent fish deaths.

“It is strange you know, these birds are fish eating bird, you know, the sea gulls around here are fine and all of a sudden this is happening – you just think ‘why’,” he said.

Shag Island is home to thousands of the birds and lies about a kilometre offshore.

One theory is that the birds are dying on the island and being washed up on the beach.

On Saturday, a dead dolphin was found a few kilometres away at Port Broughton, taking the total to 31.

The Environment Department has said morbillivirus is to blame for the spate of recent dolphin deaths, but said that doesn’t kill birds.