In recent weeks, residents of Cape Meares and visitors who have been out walking on beach have likely encountered a surprising number of deceased birds. The Cape Meares area is not the only region of the Pacific Coast where the carcasses are being found. A large number of dead Cassin’s Auklets have been spotted along the coast from Alaska to California.
There are about 1200 volunteers who patrol the shores recording any dead birds that wash up in their survey zone.
The University of Washington launched the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) that has 700 volunteers. This number includes several residents from Cape Meares with Olli Olikainen filling on for Jon and Merrie Zihady while Marie recovers from a knee replacement. Olli has been able to recruit other residents from Cape Meares to assist with the periodic counting of the carcasses along a stretch that Olli has agreed to supervise. Volunteers from the community in addition to Olli who have aided in the bird counting have included Keith and Anita Johanson, BJ Byron, Kevin and Kathy Burke, and Carolyn Olikainen, Wendy Kunkel, Dave Audet, John Harland, Ciel Downing, Rod Pelson, and Pete Steen.
One of the purposes for the bird count is to seek the cause of the early deaths of the Cassin’s Auklets. Recently a report was made available that makes for interesting reading and may have pinpointed the cause of the deaths of the birds. Climate change is a possible link.
The URL below is to the story appearing in the Audubon’s website.