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Virginia’s Laughing Gulls Decimated by Climate Change

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Laughing GullRising sea levels fueled by climate change are decimating colonies of laughing gulls on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, reports The Virginian-Pilot’s Diane Tennant:

“It’s been clear for a decade that they’re really struggling on the lower Delmarva seaside,” said Bryan Watts, center director. “What’s so dramatic to me about this particular situation is that between 1993 and 2003, there was some indication of this, but it’s like in the early 2000s, we dropped off a cliff.”

Laughing gulls, with their black heads and loud calls of “Ha… ha… ha,” are among the most recognizable shorebirds. Historically, they nested in huge numbers in the marshes of the lagoons and barrier islands on the Atlantic side of the Eastern Shore. But rising sea level has led to periodic flooding that drowns chicks and wipes out nests, Watts said.

“You reach a tipping point,” he said. “That’s when they’re washed out so frequently that they can’t hatch chicks. Then those colonies are lost.” […]

This is just another example of how the climate and sea level are changing, and the response to that,” Watts said. “Behind Cobb Island, there’s an entire complex of marsh islands that are referred to collectively as Gull Marsh. It’s a pretty long string, a mile or so. That used to be a real gull factory there. It is no longer.”

It’s just one example of birds threatened by climate change. Similar stories can be found up & down the Atlantic Coast, from Maine’s threatened puffins to the jeopardized MacGillivray’s seaside sparrow in the Carolinas and Florida. Tell the Environmental Protection Agency you support strong new limits on climate-disrupting industrial carbon pollution.