Researchers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) have received reports of more than 150 dead or distressed greater shearwaters, gull-like birds, along Florida’s east coast in Brevard, Indian River, St. Johns and Volusia counties this week. After examining some of the birds, researchers believe these deaths are related to stress from the species’ long, trans-Atlantic migration.
Greater shearwaters migrate from their primary breeding grounds in Tristan da Cunha, a group of islands off the southwest coast of Africa, across the Atlantic to Canada, according to the Peterson Field Guide for Eastern Birds.
“This long migration, coupled with storms and high winds, can take its toll on some immature and older shearwaters, sapping their strength and making it difficult to feed,” said Dan Wolf, an FWC research biologist. “Upon examination of some of the dead greater shearwaters this week, we found the birds were young and emaciated, consistent with normal migrati