Avian Flu killing about 500 sea birds a day at breeding colony off Western Cape coast

Cormorants dry their wings while resting on rocks.

Cormorants dry their wings while resting on rocks.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via

  • Avian Flu is killing about 500 Dyer Island sea birds a day.  
  • The island is a breeding colony and most of the dead birds are Cape Cormorants. 
  • The public is reminded not the touch sick or dead birds, but to call it in. 

Avian Flu is killing about 500 sea birds at the Dyer Island breeding colony every day. 

“Sadly, we continue to find roughly 500 dead birds per day on the island, dying or dead. By far the majority of the dead birds reported during the outbreak are Cape Cormorants,” said the Western Cape’s environmental affairs department.

The island is about 8km offshore from Gansbaai.

The department’s MEC Anton Bredell said by the end of last week about 10 500 of the endangered species were dead as a result of the outbreak. 

The department was also investigating what seemed to be a higher than normal number of seals dying.

They appeared to be more malnourished than infected with the virus, but the investigation would provide the final say. 

READ | Over 10 500 endangered seabirds killed by avian flu outbreak in Western Cape, authorities say

Jacques Nel from the Owl Orphanage said the higher than usual number of ailing seals was shocking. 

“I have never seen anything like it,” he said.

He explained that the seal pups were usually left behind by their mothers if there was not enough food, or the pups were born prematurely; but this was at a scale he had never seen before.

The catastrophe was being observed from Lamberts Bay all the way through to Overberg. 

The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds had to hand-rear over 1 000 Cormorant chicks in January after a mass abandonment from Robben and Jutten islands. 

Sick bird sightings can be report to the Department of Agriculture.

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