updated 6/20/2005 8:21:35 AM ET 2005-06-20T12:21:35

South Carolina wildlife officials are warning residents and visitors to stay away from sick sea birds they may see on the shore. The birds, many of which usually stay well offshore, are showing up by the dozens on South Carolina beaches and they are dead or dying.

South Carolina Natural Resources Department veterinarian Al Segars said the problem could be neurological and could be related to an offshore algae bloom.

But, he said, the uncertainty of the source of the birds' illnesses means people should call beach patrol or animal control officers.

"Don't take them home and try to nurse them back to health," Segars said Friday.

About 150 birds have been found from northern Georgia to Cape Hatteras, N.C., this week.

Most are greater shearwaters, though some are storm petrels and gannets.  The ailment doesn't seem to be affecting typical shore birds including pelicans, gulls and terns, Segars said.

The birds that can walk typically stagger before collapsing and dying, Segars said.

But the die-off could be simply the typical mortality of the birds during migration.  Onshore winds in recent days might be washing ashore sick and dying birds ashore that normally would have died in the water, Segars said.

Several of the birds have been sent to the Southeast Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study lab in Georgia for testing.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments