A migratory duck already under environmental pressure has taken the brunt of the damage from the San Francisco Bay fuel spill, the AP reports. Of at least 1,365 dead birds, more than one-quarter are surf scoters, as are 40% of the birds being cleaned. "The oil spill just adds insult to injury and creates greater stress on these birds," says an Audubon Society official.
The spill killed or injured birds from 27 species, affecting surf scoters disproportionately because they spend most of their time in the hardest-hit areas. The species was already in trouble: The population has dropped by at least half over the past 40 years thanks to global warming and industrial pollution. "It's a major cause for concern," says a biologist.