STINSON BEACH (KPIX 5) – Birds known as murres are dying in record numbers, with many dead birds ending up on Bay Area beaches. Experts said warmer oceans are behind the die-off.

“Based in the numbers of birds were getting into our wildlife hospital at WildCare it’s a pretty darn dire situation,” said Alison Hermance of WildCare Bay Area.

It’s not disease. Wildlife experts said warmer water is to blame. The fish and squid murres feed on are diving deeper to stay cool, which also keeps that food out of reach. Birds are washing up emaciated, or worse.

“These birds are not able to find the fish they need and they are starving to death and they are washing up on our beaches. It’s really very traumatic,” Hermance said.

WildCare said they’ve seen 25 murres in the last two weeks. They only saw 33 in all of last year.

For every bird that makes it into the wildlife center, there are at least 5 more that are injured or dead.

The weather isn’t El Niño related, they say, but with the warm water it’s also expected to bring with it, this problem may only get worse.

“It is a really good indicator that there’s something going on off our coast that’s worrisome,” Hermance said.

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