EDMONDS, Wash. - PAWS Wildlife Center on Sunday released 11 Common Murres who were among the hundreds of seabirds rescued from the Oregon/Washington coast after being incapacitated by an algal bloom.
Stormy weather mixed up the algae and created a foamy, soapy substance that soiled the birds' feathers, damaging their ability to fly, float and keep warm.
"They ended up losing their waterproofing," said PAWS naturalist, Kevin Mack.
To avoid drowning and hypothermia, the birds struggled ashore where they were unable to feed or otherwise care for themselves.
"Fortunately some caring people were able to intervene and make this release possible," said Mack.
Over the last two weeks, PAWS Wildlife Center staff and volunteers nursed the murres back to health and washed them to remove the soapy substance so they could regain their waterproofing and return to the wild.
"The birds required about 12-16 hours of care daily, including just monitoring them in pools to make sure that they were still waterproof and floating," said Mack. "Every bird was washed at least once, some of them were washed multiple times."
The birds were released at Brackett's Landing in Edmonds.