This is a response about the dead birds being found in Elkhorn Slough from Kerstin Wasson, Research Coordinator at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve:
It appears that these dead birds are part of a larger event — a lot of cormorants and grebes have been dying of starvation due to lack of anchovy food resources this spring. Vets have conducted fairly extensive tests and have thus ruled out all diseases that might be expected. So while sad, this appears to be part of natural cycles of richness and scarcity in the ocean.
Below are links from two recent articles on the subject.
Posted by Kenneth Weidner. (we are looking in to this and will post what we know)
Yesterday, (April 30th, 2009) my wife and I visited Elkhorn Slough for the first time. We were both amazed by beauty of the slough and the abundance of wildlife. However, we came upon what appeared to be a mini-holocaust for cormorants. We tried to count the number of corpses but because they were slightly above us while kayaking; and they were so close together it was difficult. My best guess was at least 10 and possibly as many as 20 dead cormorants in a 6 ft. by 4 ft area. I reported it to the monterey kayaking people but they seemed to think it was a natural occurance. It didn’t appear nautral to me but I’m no expert. I would appreciate comments from someone with expertise. I’ve several photos if you would like to see please send me a request at the email above.