Starving, abandoned baby murres washing ashore in Bay Area

FAIRFIELD, Calif. (KGO) -- One hundred starving baby murres have mysteriously washed ashore on Bay Area beaches in the last month. The penguin-like birds were abandoned by their parents for some reason.

Efforts are underway to save them at the International Bird Rescue Center in Fairfield.

Baby chicks are recovering in outdoor pools while weaker murres are indoors in intensive care units.The chicks were likely born on the Farrallon Islands.

At this age, they should be learning to fish with their fathers, their primary caretakers. So far, 100 chicks have become separated from their parents and washed ashore on the Northern California coast between Marin and Monterey.

Bird rescue technician Jennifer Linander says the birds aren't sick. "They're starving, emaciated, anemic, hypothermic, a lot are coming in with low red blood cell counts."

She says finding 100 chicks like this is unprecedented. Why just babies and not adults? International Bird Rescue Executive Director JD Bergeron said, "Warming waters on our coast means the fish that normally live there are going to cooler water farther away. Babies can't dive and they can't hunt properly. Probably what's happening is the adults are following the fish and they can't take the babies with them."

The expensive round-the-clock care is focused on stabilizing the birds, making sure they're waterproof to maintain warmth, getting food and medicine. It's being called an "e-muure-gency" as the center reaches out to the public for financial aid to help the baby birds.

An anonymous donor has offered to match the first $50,000 in donations. To donate, visit this website.

The challenge in releasing the birds in another six weeks is that they are unable to fish on their own. They will have to be released with an adult that can guide them back to a colony.

The fear is this wave of starving chicks could be just the beginning since it's still early in their breeding season. If you find a stranded murre or seabird, report it to a lifeguard or animal control so that the bird can be rescued.

Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.