Winter storms may be behind rise in seabird deaths

Stormy weather over the winter could have caused more seabirds to wash up around Jersey's coast, experts have said.

Researchers found that between November 2023 and February 2024, a total of 124 beached birds were reported, which was higher than average.

The figures are part of an annual study by the Birds on the Edge partnership and the Ornithology Section of the Société Jersiaise.

Researchers said winter storms can tire birds and prevent them from fishing, while rough seas can increase the risk of oil contamination.

The report said this winter's casualties included:

  • 30 cormorants and European shags

  • 19 storm petrels

  • Six gulls

  • 29 guillemots

  • 11 razorbills

  • Eight puffins

  • Six gannets

Other birds found beached in smaller numbers included a variety of waders, grebes and divers.

Not all birds were found dead and some were taken to the JSPCA to be cared for, researchers said.

The report added: "Whilst seabirds are used to winter storms, the frequency and intensity of storms is increasing rapidly due to the climate crisis, and this has been noted with an increase of beached seabirds and large-scale seabird wrecks."

The Ornithology Section and Birds On The Edge monitor the populations of Jersey’s breeding seabirds every year, in the hope all local pairs come back each spring from their wintering seas.

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