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Investigation of a largescale common murre (Uria aalge) mortality event in California in 2015

March 26, 2018

From August through December 2015, beachcast bird survey programs reported increased deposition of common murres (Uria aalge) on central and northern California beaches, but not on southern California beaches. Coastal wildlife rehabilitation centers received more than 1,000 live, stranded, and debilitated murres from Sonoma County to San Luis Obispo County during August–October. Approximately two-thirds of admitted birds were after-hatch-year birds in emaciated body condition and in various stages of molt, with extremely worn plumage. Necropsies were done on a sample (n=35) of birds to determine the probable cause of death of beachcast carcasses. Most birds examined during necropsy were emaciated, with starvation the most likely cause of death. Birds were also tested for underlying infectious diseases at the US Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) and harmful algal bloom toxins at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Northwest Fisheries Science Center. Twenty-four out of 29 tested birds had detectable levels of domoic acid, and no indication of infectious disease was found. Emaciation is thought to be the cause of death for these birds, with a large warm water anomaly and harmful algal bloom playing a secondary detrimental role.

Publication Year 2018
Title Investigation of a largescale common murre (Uria aalge) mortality event in California in 2015
DOI 10.7589/2017-07-179
Authors Corinne Gibble, Rebecca Duerr, Barbara Bodenstein, Kirsten Lindquist, Jackie Lindsey, Jessie Beck, Laird A. Henkel, Jan Roletto, Jim Harvey, Raphael Kudela
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Wildlife Diseases
Index ID 70196201
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wildlife Health Center