According to the French national Bird Protection League (LPO), more than 21 000 sea birds have died since the end of January on France's Atlantic coast due to storms in the worst "slaughter" in a century.
A total of 21 341 dead birds had been counted up to February 24 on the southwestern Basque coast and in Brittany in northwestern France. The count had been carried out over three weekends and involved more than 500 volunteers. This is a provisional toll and the final numbers could be much higher. Nearly 2,800 were housed in bird protection shelters in these areas.
The worst affected species were the Atlantic Puffin, the Common Murre or Common Guillemot and the Razorbill.
Atlantic Puffin or Common Puffin is one of the hardest hit species (Credit: Imagenesygraficos)
LPO's Nicolas Gendre explains that the birds used up more energy to survive and seek food during storms – so the birds basically died of starvation. Storms had forced the birds to areas that are less rich in food. The last such mass deaths only occurred in 1900.
LPO stated there had also been some number of deaths caused by pollution as a result of cargo ships taking advantage of the inclement conditions to dump noxious gases at sea.
Featured image: Atlantic puffins loafing around near the breeding burrows. (Credit: Steve Garvie)
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