Jūrmala seagulls dying en masse, cause unknown

RIGA – Many visitors to Jūrmala and several other Latvian beaches over the weekend were surprised to see that the noisy flocks of seagulls had vanished, leaving pigeons to reign over the suntanned masses. Finally on Monday it was reported why: seagulls are turning up dead in large numbers, and no one knows why.

Ornithologists believe that the seagulls, whose numbers in Riga and surrounding areas have become alarmingly large in recent years, probably ate something poisonous in a nearby waste dump.

Jānis Viksna, an ornithologist, told the Baltic News Service that the dead seagulls showed symptoms of food poisoning and that he was nearly 100 percent sure that the deaths were caused by something the birds found in the garbage.

Latvia’s Food and Veterinary Service has ordered an analysis of the dead seagulls and expects results by the end of the week.

A similar phenomenon is occurring in Estonia, and whether the two are related remains unknown.

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