Flocks of dead seagulls have been found scattered around Lake Van in eastern Turkey, and even though most deaths are attributed to hunger and food scarcity, the extent of the deaths has been worrying.
The incident recently came to light after several concerned residents contacted officials about seeing the dead and dying birds around the body of water. Residents in the area have been demanding that authorities look deeper into the collective deaths, which happen on an annual basis.
Locals said the current situation with the coronavirus has only added to their worries, and the carcasses of the gulls were constituting a great public health hazard, especially to children who play around the lake.
Seagulls are known to choose places not populated by humans and areas that do not pose a risk to them during the breeding season, hence they prefer the Lake Van basin, and in particular Adır Island (also known as Lim Island).
Aptly nicknamed "seagull island" by Van locals, Adır Island becomes a nesting ground for hundreds of seagulls who come to lay their eggs every year. While most of the seagulls are reported to die from starvation, the increasing numbers of deaths has left people feeling uneasy.
Locals have complained of not being able to swim in the lake because of the dead birds and are worried about contracting possible diseases from them.
"Although it seems like it is a simple natural event, it is much bigger than that for us. There are hundreds and even thousands of dead seagulls on the coastline. We are very uncomfortable with this situation. We can't swim in the lake. And we are more concerned now because of the coronavirus pandemic," said Ahmet Çıkla, a local from the area.
Stating that the seagulls were even going inside their homes to find food, Çıkla said they have been calling on authorities to clean up the shores and find the reason behind these deaths.