Why are birds and seals starving in a Bering Sea full of fish?

Why are birds and seals starving in a Bering Sea full of fish?

SOURCE: Seattle Times DATE: November 3, 2019 SNIP: [A]s climate change warms the die-offs of seabirds and marine mammals have been on the rise. The grim tally includes a nearly fivefold increase in ice-seal carcasses spotted on shore, strandings of emaciated gray whales, and near the St. Lawrence Island village of Savoonga, a discouraging spectacle: auklets abandoning seaside nests as their chicks succumb to hunger. The animal die-offs offer the world a stark example of the perils of rising ocean temperatures, which already are upending parts of the Bering Sea ecosystem as climate change — driven by greenhouse-gas pollution from fossil fuels — unfolds in Alaska at a breakneck pace. For the past two years, the winter ice has largely disappeared, and this fall, ice formation in some of the northern waters has been at historic lows. Federal and university scientists are trying to better understand why some birds and marine mammals have been unable to find enough food, and whether toxic algae blooms — increasing as the water warms — could have contributed or caused some of the die-offs. The struggles of Alaska’s seabirds grabbed scientists’ attention in 2015, when hundreds of thousands of dead and dying common murres washed ashore along state’s south-central coast during a period of unusually warm water temperatures. That Alaska seabird die-off was thought to be the biggest on record and could be devastating if repeated, according to a National Park Service publication. It was followed by a series of other die-offs. Scientists have sent more than 220 seabird carcasses found along different parts of Alaska’s shoreline to a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)...