The seabirds of the Golden Coast seem to be in mortal peril as hundreds of them have turned up on the eastern shoreline in and around San Francisco Bay, covered with a mysterious sticky black substance.
The contaminated birds were found on both land and water.
The state lab has determined that the viscous mystery gunk is not toxic, but it is terribly dangerous as it sticks to the birds’ feathers, affecting their ability to remain water-proof (all seabirds have waterproof plumage). It could lead to hyperthermia and eventually death since the bird fails to protect itself against the cold.
The substance has no smell, and cannot be removed by normal soap.
The International Bird Rescue Research Center collected almost 380 birds from the shoreline, including 80 which were found dead. The rest are under intensive care at the research center, where vets have been busy cleaning these birds with a modified wash protocol.
Barbara Callahan, the interim director of IBRRC, says that lab tests have proven that the black goo is not petroleum.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s not a byproduct of chemical waste dumped in the oceans on regular basis.
A handful of listless scoter bird were also sighted near the Western shoreline, leading experts to believe the mysterious substance affected a larger area.
Imperiled birds include surf scoters, horned grebes, buffleheads, scaups and other smaller shorebirds.
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