Scientists investigate hundreds of seabird deaths on Yorkshire coastline

Scientists say they're seeing "unprecedented numbers" of seabirds dying for this time of year as they work to investigate the cause.

The issue was initially discovered in Scotland, but now dead birds have been spotted at Bempton on the East Yorkshire coast near Bridlington.

The UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), which is investigating the cause of the deaths, said the majority of the birds were guillemots.

While the cause has not been confirmed, some scientists say it could be related to a lack of food, as the many of the dead birds are half their usual weight.


Dr. Francis Daunt, seabird ecologist at CEH said: “We are seeing unprecedented numbers of guillemots dying for the time of year, over a huge area of the Eastern UK coast from Norfolk to Orkney.

"We are also seeing very unusual behaviour. Birds have been seen feeding very close to beaches in amongst swimmers, when normally they steer clear of people, and have been observed up to 20 miles up rivers, which is unheard of for this marine bird. 

"These are signs that the birds are getting desperate in their search for food. "

"So it appears that the birds are dying from starvation. This suggests that there is a lack of their fish prey in the sea, but people are seeing a lot of feeding flocks by our coasts at the moment, so perhaps starvation is being caused by something else."

He added that 10 bird have been tested for avian flu, all of which came back negative.

They are now looking at the possibility of toxic poisoning from algal blooms.