• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 33s

Thousands of dead seabirds wash up in Whittier

By Heather Hintze 7:57 PM January 6, 2016

Thousands of dead seabirds are washing up on the shores of Whittier. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said biologists counted about 8,000 common murres on surrounding beaches.

“It’s a major event and it’s difficult to see,” said Kathy Kuletz, the seabird coordinator for Fish and Wildlife.

On Wednesday afternoon, Justin Siemens and his girlfriend, Erin Henszey, drove down from Girdwood to get a look at the carcasses piled up on the rocks.

“It’s super crazy. I’ve always seen a little bit of die off from the winter weather, but nothing like this,” Siemens said.

Kuletz said there have been four major common murre die-offs since the 1970s. She said this has the potential to be the biggest mortality event in the state’s history — numbers could reach more than 100,000.

“It’s more widespread,” Kuletz explained. “We have anecdotal reports from citizens and fishermen, people out on the water who’ve been running into them in the bays, dead or dying.”

Kuletz and a team of scientists will head out by boat on Thursday to get a more accurate count in the outlying areas.

She said the die-off is likely due to the warm El Nino weather. The murres’ food source might be going deeper than the birds can dive to feed. That’s one reason they might be starving to death. Some birds are searching for food in other places. Murres have been found as far north as Talkeetna and even Fairbanks.

Guy Runco, the executive director for the Bird Treatment and Learning Center, said it’s strange to see seabirds so far from the ocean. The center’s taken in more than 200 birds in just the first week of 2016. Volunteers are rehabilitating and releasing the animals as fast as they can.

“It’s tough. But this is what wildlife rehabilitation is all about. You just hope you’re making a difference,” Runco said.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Troopers, APD step up patrols for holiday weekend

    by Heather Hintze on May 26, 17:42

    People headed out of town for the long holiday weekend might notice extra traffic enforcement, as Governor Bill Walker has asked Alaska State Troopers to work together with the Anchorage Police Department to keep the Seward Highway safe over Memorial Day weekend. APD will have officers from mile 112 near McHugh Creek to mile 75 […]

  • DA: Anchorage man may have sex trafficked dozens

    by Shannon Ballard on May 26, 17:27

    An Anchorage man charged with multiple sex trafficking crimes appeared before a judge on Friday. So far, three women have spoken out against 31-year-old Deon Daniels. He now faces six felony charges for the alleged sex trafficking crimes. Daniels sat quietly during his first court appearance and entered a not guilty plea on all charges– five […]

  • News

    Northern Lights Blvd. to be closed this weekend

    by KTVA Web Staff on May 26, 16:59

    A section of Northern Lights Boulevard will be closed all of Memorial Day weekend as crews conduct work connected to a waterline rehabilitation project. Anchorage Water & Wastewater Utility says the project will replace aging infrastructure that is corroding and breaking under the high-traffic roadway, as well as upsizing the water main in an effort […]

  • Politics

    Trump’s budget cuts West Coast quake warning system funding

    by Associated Press on May 26, 16:48

    LOS ANGELES (AP) – President Donald Trump’s budget proposal would cut funding for an earthquake early warning system for California, Oregon and Washington state. The system being developed in conjunction with various universities is intended at providing critical seconds of warning when an earthquake has started and potentially dangerous shaking is imminent. Veteran seismologist Lucy […]

  • News

    U.S. Navy aircraft intercepted by Chinese jets, Pentagon says

    by CBS News/Associated Press on May 26, 16:24

    WASHINGTON — Two Chinese aircraft conducted an unprofessional intercept of a U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft over the South China Sea, the Pentagon said Friday, marking the second time in about a week that the U.S. has complained about unsafe Chinese operations in the region. Navy Cdr. Gary Ross said the Navy P-3 Orion was operating […]

  • News

    Deceased members of WWII Alaska militia honored

    by Bonney Bowman on May 26, 15:14

    More than 70 years ago, 6400 Alaska Natives answered the call to serve. The Alaska Territorial Guard patrolled the coasts against threat of invasion from 1942 to 1947, but, when World War II ended, their service was forgotten. It wasn’t until the year 2000 when Senator Ted Stevens started the effort to recognize and properly thank […]

  • Senator releases report on Wounded Warrior Project spending

    by CBS News on May 26, 15:09

    WASHINGTON — Last year, CBS News met Erick Millette, one of dozens of former employees who shared concerns about Wounded Warrior Project’s spending and programs for veterans. “You’re using our injuries, our darkest days, our hardships, to make money. So you can have these big parties,” Millette said in January last year. Sen. Chuck Grassley […]

  • News

    Don’t call 911 to report mommy moose on the Glenn

    by KTVA Web Staff on May 26, 14:53

    Anchorage Police say they’re being inundated with 911 calls reporting a moose with her newly-born calves off the Glenn Highway– and they want you to stop calling. The mommy moose and her twins are on the inbound side of Glenn Highway near the Fort Rich overpass, near where she gave birth several days ago. Wildlife […]