The birds hide to die

I moved my house to Îles-de-la-Madeleine for a while. My view of the sea is breathtaking. The wind is shy for a month of June and, although my mornings are dedicated to work, I save every afternoon for bike rides or on the beach. The air here is so pure. It is as if the crystalline of the sea were transformed in the air into an infinity of particles that we breathe. Like a big cleanse of the air in cities. Looks like new.

Posted at 9 am.

In Bassin, where I am, there are, as elsewhere on the islands, many beaches. The one I walk is four kilometers before the sea takes its rights for a moment, then another beach forms in front of me in the distance.

Last Tuesday, I counted 23 dead birds on my way. Gannets especially, but also little penguins. On this second beach on the other side of the ravine, there are dozens of birds, cormorants told me.

They don’t seem touched by the lurking death. I’ve never seen so many. A conventum of cormorants that emits a harsh sound, much like the sound of a bassoon, but a few octaves lower.

I let myself think that they got together and screamed like that to cheat death.

It has been more than a month since the first dead birds were seen on the shores. Two birds, then four, then a dozen and more.

Last Friday afternoon, on the beach, a Madelinot stopped us and asked us what we thought of the birds.

Of course, all this is sad. He continued his speech by saying that, as usual, the government was washing its hands aberrantly, that the Magdalene Islands, the sea, are a long way from Quebec, and concluded by saying that perhaps Prince Edward Island would better understand what is happening and act.

He looked so distressed that I didn’t dare add anything and tell him how thrilled I really was by what I saw on the beach, nor that I had any thoughts of writing about it. .

Although I am from Quebec and register as a tourist in this magnificent archipelago, I also question myself and tell myself that something must be done.

But investigations have been carried out and the conclusions are clear. Bird flu is the cause of all these deaths.

What can the government do in these cases besides collecting the carcasses and issuing recommendations for use? The cleaning operation is, however, limited to 60 kilometers of beaches, the busiest, while the archipelago has 300. Afterwards, the birds not only die on the beaches, but also fall on land.

And then, the company mandated by the Ministry of the Environment did not receive the mandate to look for them. The Madelinots are rightly worried. They live in this territory with their children, their animals. What are the dangers for both?

I’m almost there in my writing when a lobster fisherman tells me that I’ll also have to talk about the “school” of fish. In fact, a few weeks ago hundreds, even a thousand smells were found dead in the sea not far from here, he said.

Another, located further on the island, confirms me. Then, almost simultaneously, about 100,000 gaspereaux were found floating in Nova Scotia, followed by others on Prince Edward Island. Isolated incidents? Looks. The causes would have been determined.

Still, fishermen, those who know the sea as well as Neptune, are on the lookout. If the causes can be explained, a whiff of “something is going on” floats in the offshore air.

I’m not a biologist or fisherman, but I know that nature is fragile. Signs don’t lie.

Yesterday there was a gannet on the beach, this time alive. He had buried his entire head in his plumage, curled his legs. Only his body could be seen.

As I approached, he barely moved his wings. This morning he was dead. I understood that he had gone into hiding to die in peace.

I could give you the metaphor of the ostrich that buries its head in the sand.

Sometimes there are images that remain and that we cannot bury.

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