The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) can advise that between the 5 -6th June 2022, the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo received reports of multiple dead birds found along South Shore beaches.
DENR Officers were dispatched to the beaches and collected over 95 birds within several hours. More birds were reported floating off the South Shore in rough seas related to the passing of Tropical Storm Alex.
The vast majority of the birds found were the Greater Shearwater (Puffinus gravis). In some instances, the birds were thin or emaciated, but a few appeared in good health. There was no obvious trauma or overt signs of infectious disease in the animals, although detailed examinations and necropsies of some of the birds are still pending.
The Great Shearwaters are trans-equatorial migrants that breed in the Southern Hemisphere and head north in our summer to “overwinter” above latitude 45 degrees in the cool waters of the North Atlantic. During the migration, Bermuda is often used as a stopping point for them to rest and feed.
This species’ breeding range is restricted to two small islands in the Tristan de Cunha group in the South Atlantic, with most young leaving the colony in May. Their total estimated population is around 15 million animals.
From May to August and peaking in June, this species has multiple accounts of mass mortality events related to their northern migration. The normal die-off during their migration coupled with Tropical Storm Alex likely resulted in the birds being pushed ashore in Bermuda.
If seen, the public is advised not to handle the dead birds but to leave a message on the BAMZ Wildlife Rehabilitation Hotline at 293-2727, extension 999, providing the location, date, and the number present.
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