CASCO BAY, Maine — On a typical trip on her boat to one of her favorite spots in Casco Bay, Shannon Silverson was disturbed at what she saw when she arrived.
“I saw a huge seagull that was flipping around. It was obviously sick,” Silverson said.
The Peaks Island woman frequently visits Mink Rocks, just east of Cliff Island.
But on Tuesday, what she saw only seemed to get worse.
“I turned around and all of a sudden I saw another, and then another one, and another one. There [were] probably 30, some alive, some dead,” Silverson said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
After sending photos and videos of the sick birds to an official with NOAA, they told her it was likely avian flu.
“It was just a dreadful feeling. That’s why I pulled out my phone and I figured I should film it and take pictures so I could show people what was going on,” Silverson said.
Officials with the Maine Audubon Society are worried, too.
They say birds like seagulls are more likely to get and pass avian flu.
“I do want them to get tested so we know for sure that it is avian flu,” Maine Audubon Society Staff Naturalist Doug Hitchcox said. “But knowing those are great back black gulls, birds that are very susceptible to it, I will not be surprised when they test positive for avian flu.”
This isn’t the only alarming instance of dead birds being found in the region, as hundreds of birds reportedly washed up on the shores of Martha’s Vineyard this week.
“It has been pretty wide spread,” Hitchcox said. “There have been a lot of reports over the past few weeks of those gulls and things like sheer waters also washing up on beaches.”
Audubon officials say there is little anyone can do to prevent avian flu in wild birds.
Those with backyard coops are advised to wash their shoes before entering.
“It’s scary, and I want people to be protected and made aware [of] what’s going on,” Silverson said.