Coastal seabirds have experienced die-offs in Western Alaska the past few years. But recent results from over a decade of research suggest that offshore birds are also feeling the impact of low ice and warming ocean temperatures in the Bering Sea.
Residents from two Northwest Alaska villages say they found large numbers of dead mussels and krill washed up along shores in June, contributing to fears that record warm waters may be causing a wide range of ecosystem changes.
Scientists agree seabirds are a good indicators of overall ecosystem health, but they can’t agree on the cause of the Pribilof puffin die-off.
In the past two months, 300 dead puffins have washed up on St. Paul Island, alarming residents who had only seen six carcasses over the last decade. The die-off appears to be slowing down now, but scientists say it could be the sign of a much larger ecosystem problem.