Unusual numbers of wedge-tailed shearwater (Puffinus pacificus) chicks stranded on Oahu (Hawaii, USA) in 1994. Compared to healthy wedge-tailed shearwater (WTSW) chicks, stranded chicks were underweight, dehydrated, leukopenic, lymphopenic, eosinopenic, and heterophilic; some birds were toxemic and septic. Stranded chicks also were hypoglycemic and had elevated aspartate amino transferase levels. Most chicks apparently died from emaciation, dehydration, or bacteremia. Because many birds with bacteremia also had severe necrosis of the gastrointestinal (GI) mucosa associated with bacteria, we suspect the GI tract to be the source of disseminated bacterial infection. The identity of the bacteria was not confirmed. The daily number of chicks stranded was significantly related to average wind speeds, and the mortality coincided with the fledging period for WTSW. Strong southeasterly winds were a distinguishing meteorologic factor in 1994 and contributed to the distribution of stranded chicks on Oahu. More objective data on WTSW demographics would enhance future efforts to determine predisposing causes of WTSW wrecks and their effects on seabird colonies.
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Mass stranding of wedge-tailed shearwater chicks in Hawaii