During the past three years, however, Bradley has been checking on the breeding sites of the black, burrow-nesting Cassin’s auklet, and he’s been finding abandoned eggs; dead, black, cue-ball-sized chicks; and skinny, faltering fledglings. "Most of the chicks have died," says Bradley, a research biologist with PRBO Conservation Science, a nonprofit, founded as the Point Reyes Bird Observatory, that has spent the last 40 years counting and observing the hundreds of thousands of birds that nest yearly on the Farallons. "This was as complete a failure response as we’d ever seen before. And we’d been following this species for 35 years."
The apparent culprit: Ocean currents, redirected by rising sea temperature, have swept out of range the millions of tiny krill that the adult birds scoop into their beaks, chew into purple smelly goo and then spit up for their young. In other words, this unprecedented starvation wave may be a result of global warming.