Beach washed Shearwaters

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: Beach washed Shearwaters
From: "Terrance Pacey" <>
Date: Wed, 8 Nov 2000 08:22:46 +1000
There have been conflicting reports posted on Birding-Aus concerning the
cause of death for the beach washed Shearwaters.  The latest was the press
release by the Queensland Minister for Environment and Heritage/Natural
Resources last Friday (3/11).  In part, the statement said:

"autopsies on 63 muttonbirds found on North Stradbroke Island and the Gold
Coast had revealed that 58 died of symptoms consistent with oil toxicity.

"Our post mortems have revealed a black oily substance in the
gastro-intestinal tracts of the birds," Mr Welford said.

"Veterinarians working with the QPWS and Currumbin Sanctuary have suggested
this is the most likely cause of death, despite no oil being
found on the feathers."

These statements seem at odds with other reports posted on Birding-Aus where
post mortems held in southern states say that no oil was found.

In an effort to help clarify some of the differences, I contacted the
appropriate Queensland department to ascertain whether the birds involved
were Wedge-tailed Shearwaters or Short-tailed Shearwaters.  I thought that
we might be looking at two different problems involving the two different
species.  However, I was assured that all specimens were Short-tailed

Why does there seem to be such disparity in the results from different
states?  Is there, in fact, a number of different problems affecting
different areas or is the main cause oil poisoning of some sort with the oil
residue having "worn down" on the more southern corpses?

Terry Pacey
Toowoomba Qld 4350

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