Arctic tern killer found in Alaska

(ORDO NEWS) — Dozens of dead Arctic terns were discovered in a breeding colony near Juneau, Alaska in 2019.

Three years later, scientists confirmed the presence of a powerful neurotoxin produced by microscopic algae. This was reported by the press center of the US Geological Survey.

Researchers analyzed samples from the site and found elevated concentrations of saxitoxin in terns and their prey, suggesting a link between harmful algal blooms and unexpected deaths of seabirds.

“While harmful algal blooms are nothing new in Alaska, their impact on wildlife appears to be on the rise.

We are just beginning to understand what this could mean for seabirds and the health of ecosystems in general,” said Caroline Van Hemert, a wildlife biologist with the USGS.

Harmful blooms of saxitoxin-producing algae are increasing in many places around the world as ocean temperatures rise, the report notes.

In Alaska, where the impacts of climate change are particularly pronounced, unusual seabird deaths have occurred every year since 2015.

With this new study, scientists can better understand the impact of harmful algal blooms on the ecosystem and future threats to seabirds and marine life.


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