El Niño Is Likely Cause of Pelican Deaths



El Niño might be bringing much-needed rain to California, but it’s also likely causing a surprising die-off of hundreds of brown pelicans in the Bay Area, the Chron reports. The El Niño weather pattern has stirred up ocean currents, and made it more difficult for the pelicans to find fish, and so they’re dying of starvation. “We think it's probably related to El Niño and the big storms,” Esther Burkett, a wildlife biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game, told the newspaper. “When the ocean gets all mixed up, the fish are moving around and the birds cannot find them. The majority of birds we found were just weakened by the lack of food.”

El Niño also is likely behind the sea-lion exodus from Pier 39 in San Francisco. The sea lions migrated north last fall to the Oregon Coast in search of food — anchovies. “My gut feeling is it has something to do with the (ocean warming) El Niño conditions off California, which is driving prey and sea lions up north,” Kim Raum-Suryan, a biologist at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon, told the Associated Press last month.