Beach walkers report many dead young murre sea birds washing up on the beach from Agate to Nye Beach, victims of a large invasion of hungry brown pelicans. Roy Lowe of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Newport says that last year produced a bumper crop of murres and pelicans and now the pelicans are headed north from their Baja California breeding grounds looking for food.
Lowe says the murre breeding rocks off the Yaquina Head Lighthouse have been invaded by young juvenile pelicans, some of which have been seen picking up the juvenile murres and shaking the fish out of them. Some pelicans are reported to be even eating some of the young murres. Many other murres are panicking and jumping off the rocks and into the ocean where they perish either from hypothermia or taking a physical beating against the rocks from the waves.
Lowe says it’s common for murre colonies to be bombarded by crows, seagulls, ravens and eagles. He said both the brown pelicans and the eagles have been protected species and so their numbers have swelled in recent years as they make a biological comeback. Lowe said, “We’re now we’re seeing Mother Nature attempting to reintegrate these species into the environment in their proper proportion. Unfortunately the murres are taking a beating and it may go on for a while.”