Dr. Jennifer Lavers, seabird ecologist and research scientist at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, has seen these kind of shearwater die-offs (also called “wrecks”) happen before in Australia, and she has an idea about what may have happened.
“When wreck events happen in Australia, they usually happen in October and November,” Lavers told The Dodo. “The birds have just completed an 8,000 to 12,000 kilometer migration from the Bering Sea back to Australia. When they do that migration, they fly nonstop for about two weeks, and they don’t stop to feed. So you can imagine that if you’re a shearwater, and you’ve flown 10,000 kilometers … you’re going to be pretty darn hungry. So you’ve got to find food fast.”