Short tailed shearwaters “wrecked” on Lord Howe Island

Short tailed shearwaters “wrecked” on Lord Howe Island

In October 2013 we saw large numbers of Short-tailed shearwaters “wrecked” on the beaches at Lord Howe Island. These birds breed on the Bass Strait islands. After breeding they fly north in May, through the Tasman Sea, across the equator, past Japan, past the Aleutian Islands, down past Alaska then fly back to Tasmania. Along the way they often encounter bad weather and strong winds, and each year many dead birds are found washed up on beaches along the east coast of Australia. However 2013 was a particularly bad season for these birds, and there were reports on some mainland beaches of hundreds of dead birds a day. Here at Lord Howe Island, for the first time I have ever seen this – some 200 birds were washed onto our beaches dead – from exhaustion and hunger. Also when going out offshore in a boat, we would see dozens of these birds swimming, diving for food with our Grey ternlets and Brown noddies, obviously hoping to get some food, and gain some strength back to make the journey to Tasmania.