Large number of shorebirds in distress in Southwest Florida

Published: December 23, 2021 4:42 PM EST
Updated: December 23, 2021 5:05 PM EST

A large number of shorebirds, the majority gulls and terns, are ending up sick and dying on Lee and Collier County beaches.

“They are convulsing, they’re lying on the beach,” said Audrey Albrecht, a shorebird biologist with the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. “It’s a very violent way to die. And it’s very hard to watch.”

Albrecht said this is not the first time she has seen so many birds in distress.

“In 2018, FWC and some other agencies work together and found out it was red tide in combination with the type of bacteria, so it was something more than the usual red tide,” Albrecht said.

Albrecht said she won’t know what is happening now until she gets results.

Breanna Frankel, rehabilitation manager at CROW Clinic, fears the birds are dying because of something else.

“As their ecosystems grow, as humans expand outward, as more pollution is introduced into oceans, there is all sorts of things that can happen year to year that change from the previous year. So just like humans see various flu strains, similar things can happen to wildlife as well,” Frankel said.

If you see a sick or injured bird, you can call CROW and they will walk you through where to take it for treatment. CROW can be reached at 239-472-3644.