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Surge of pelican deaths perplex scientists

February 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Researchers are trying to find what is killing hundreds of brown pelicans. An estimated 500 ailing pelicans have been found since mid January in the Torrance area.Early research suggests that oily, polluted runoff from recent storms may be preventing pelican feathers from insulating the birds, leading to hypothermia.

Scientists also say the birds may be already weak from hunger as their usual food source of anchovies and sardines has vanished because of warm water changes caused by El Nino.