Avian influenza (H5N1) in two years quantitatively destroyed three quarters of the population of the great skunk, 25% of northern gannets and other birds living on the coast of Britain.
The report of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the British Foundation for Ornithology states that 16,000 pairs of great grebes have died since the outbreak of bird flu, writes The Guardian.
“This level of bird mortality is very high. To have such losses in a population for which we have international responsibility is a disaster.” – says Jean Duggan, Avian Influenza Assistant at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
Gannets nest in small colonies, which means they are particularly vulnerable to disease. Their population decreased by 54%. Researchers assure: one infected bird is enough to infect an entire flock in a short time.
|Due to avian flu, the number of seabirds is drastically reduced. Photo: mzphoto/Depositphotos
“We knew the situation with gannets and great skua was bad, but it’s worse than we thought”Duggan said.
The report also claims that the virus has caused the pink tern population to drop by 21%. These are the rarest breeding seabirds in the UK, with only one permanent breeding colony.
Seabirds tend to live a long time. They can reproduce when they reach about five years of age. Usually only have a few chicks, so populations take longer to recover from bird flu.
Populations of greater plovers, northern terns and pink terns were increasing before bird flu appeared, so researchers can link their declines to this virus. The decline in the population of sand terns and common terns (by 35% and 42%, respectively) was probably due to bird flu.
In total, 9 of the 13 species mentioned in the report declined by more than 10%, but in some populations this happened even before bird flu.
In general, this dangerous disease spreads among animals all over the world.
Thus, in December, the death of a polar bear from bird flu was confirmed in Alaska, and about 20,000 sea lions died from this virus in Chile and Peru.
In Argentina, bird flu killed 220 flamingos and 17,000 baby elephant seals, which is 96% of the entire population.
However, scientists have already found antibodies to bird flu in birds. Scientists hope that they will protect them from the deadly virus.
Read also: “Bird” flu can be transmitted from person to person – experts