Bird Deaths Still A Mystery

Bird Deaths Still A Mystery

Published August 5, 2014

Photos by
Diliff/Wikimedia Commons

Scientists have ruled out avian flu as the cause of the massive die-off of about 100 sea birds in west Iceland last spring, but the culprit remains a mystery for now.

RÚV reports that samples taken from some of the dead birds were analyzed both here and abroad. These samples showed signs of some kind of blood disease, but testing ruled out both avian flu and botulism as possible causes. What ultimately killed the birds is still unknown.

As reported, the bird carcasses were discovered near Fróðárrif, located on the Snæfellsnes peninsula in west Iceland, over the previous May and June. These birds included kittiwakes, cormorants and eiders. Even more inexplicably, many dead flounders were also found near the area, having washed up on the shores nearby.

Jón Einar Jónsson, the director of the Institute of Research Centres at the University of Iceland, visited the area to assess the situation. Although scavenging creatures had picked apart many of the dead birds, a few specimens were still intact, and newly dead. Some of these specimens were sent to the USGS-National Wildlife Health Center in Wisconsin, to be examined by experts in bird diseases there. Their final conclusions are still pending.

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