September 14, 2009

Sea ducks dying on Washington coast

More than 100 dead and dying sea ducks found on two Washington state beaches likely were sickened by a toxic algae bloom, wildlife officials said.

Most of the dead and sick birds were white-winged scoters and surf scoters that eat shellfish, said Julia Parrish, executive director of Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team.

The dead and sick ducks began appearing Friday on Kalaloch and LaPush beaches on the Washington Coast.

If you go to outer coast beaches, you might normally see one dead scoter in a kilometer. We're seeing more than 100, and reports that some are staggering around, Parish said.

Several of the birds have been sent to a federal laboratory in Madison, Wis., to determine the cause of death, The Seattle Times reported Monday, adding beachgoers have been cautioned to stay away from dead sea birds but neither of the beaches has been closed.