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Sea birds found starving, unable to fly throughout Southcentral Alaska

By Shannon Ballard Photojournalist: Emily Landeen - 9:04 PM December 31, 2015
ANCHORAGE –

Hundreds of starving sea birds known as Common Murres have been found grounded, unable to fly throughout areas of Southcentral Alaska.

They’re desperate to find food and are being discovered as far inland as Willow.

We first told you about this problem in November, but this week the issue has escalated.

People report finding dying Murres in their yards and in the middle of roads.

Nearly 100 Common Murres have been brought to the Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage.

Volunteers weigh them, examine their bodies, and feed the birds through a tube.

On Thursday alone, the non-profit Bird TLC received more than 30 emaciated Common Murres. Most of the birds were found in the Matanuska Valley.

It’s still uncertain why this is happening, but many scientists believe ocean warming could be the cause.

The birds rely on fish that have moved to colder, deeper spots in the ocean. The birds can’t dive down far enough to feed so they’ve traveled inland in search of food.

“Usually we only see one or two Murres a year and seeing this many is defiantly concerning,” said Bird TLC volunteer Veterinarian Maggie Trefney. “It’s disheartening too, [with] everything that we’re doing, and they still keep coming in.”

Bird TLC and the Alaska Sealife Center are doing all they can to nurse the Murres back to health.

Once healthy enough, the sea birds are released back to the ocean.

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