Although a number of possibilities have been put forward to explain the mass die-off, including lack of food, disease, severe weather events, and pollution, there is not yet a consensus on the precise reason to explain the mystery. However, scientists are hard at work investigating the situation to find an answer.How could algae potentially result in mass seabird deaths?
As part of these efforts, the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH) research institute is assessing the possibility that a major bloom of algae could be a culprit. In September, a huge patch of algal blooms was detected by satellite off the northeast coastline. Although this bloom has now stopped, some hypothesize it could have potentially resulted in toxins entering the food chain, and harming seabirds like guillemots.
Peter Miller, a satellite oceanographer from Plymouth Marine Laboratory, decided to look for anything unusual showing up on satellite imagery of the northeast coastline after hearing stories about the seabird die-offs. He said: “When the seabirds story started to develop, I wondered if there were any algal blooms on the east coast, particularly around Scotland, and I observed the was quite a dense bloom of algae showing on satellite images. “It’s not a typical occurrence, it doesn’t happen there every year, and I was aware of previous episodes in previous years in different countries where toxic algae had caused problems for not just fish, but also animals like seabirds and other predators.