To: "Bird Chat Line" <>
Subject: shearwaters
From: "Mitchener/Christie" <>
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2000 17:53:05 +1030
Newsitem from Tasmania listed in Wetstuff 31.10.00  (Marine Coastal & Community 
Network, SA)

 THE mystery of mass muttonbird deaths is deepening with post mortems returning 
no clear reason for the phenomenon.  A survey of
southern beaches finished yesterday found 47 dead short-tailed shearwaters for 
every kilometre of coastline - about 33 times the
number reported in what was considered a bad year.  A similar survey last year 
found fewer than one dead bird for each kilometre.
Deaths this time of year, at the end of the birds' annual southern migration, 
are often attributed to exhaustion from the marathon
flight. Birds fly between southeastern Australia and the Pacific Arctic area 
each year, a return trip of about 30,000km.  A Nature
Conservation Branch spokesman said 1993 was considered a bad year - 1.43 deaths 
per kilometre.
"This year's figure is much bigger than we'd realised and very alarming," the 
spokesman said.  Some of the heaviest concentrations
of dead birds were at Carlton Beach, only a short flight across Frederick Henry 
Bay to one of southern Tasmania's biggest rookeries.
The spokesman said a study of some birds had been inconclusive. More exhaustive 
tests would be done.  The Department of Primary
Industries, Water and Environment released a statement last night: "The scale 
of muttonbird deaths in Tasmania, as part
of a phenomenon occurring on Australia's eastern seaboard and in New Zealand, 
is now emerging."  The survey by the Australasian
Seabird Group  checked beaches at Marion Bay, Eaglehawk Neck, Safety Cove, 
Roaring Beach and Bellerive.  The department said testing
at the Mt Pleasant laboratory, near Launceston, had found no conclusive 
diagnosis and further samples were being gathered.

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