An alarming number of dead birds are being discovered floating along the shores of the northern Bahamas causing concern among some residents in the Grand Bahama community. A week after the first incident was reported, accounts of dead birds floating in Bahamian waters are still filing in.

Tom Christian, a director of Bahamas Air Sea Association (BASRA), said that they have become aware of several reports regarding the discovery of dead birds. The first incident happened in the waters near the east end of Grand Bahama Island, off Borrows Cay.

"A boat had left from Freeport and went to Southern Abaco and on their trip there, and, as they were coming back they spotted dead birds," Christian explained. "The largest concentration of the dead birds was off Borrows Cay, floating in the ocean."

The boaters estimated that they had seen somewhere between 50 to 100 dead birds on their trip. The birds were described as having brown wings, white chests and hooked beaks.

Mike Wallace, chief public analyst at the Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS), said last week that the DEHS was aware of the incident but had not collected any carcasses at that point.

"We have, and do, herewith request that if there are fresh sightings, that we be called immediately so as to have a chance to collect fresh carcasses that we can pass on to the Department of Agriculture for review," Wallace said.

According to Christian, there have been several new sightings since the initial incident, yet he has not seen any action. There was an incident reported to BASRA on June 25 by persons who had spotted another large quantity of birds 15 miles off Freeport and BASRA also received information of more dead bird citings as far as Bimini. Christian said that BASRA has unsucessfully tried to get into contact with Mike Wallace and the DEHS.

Several eyewitnesses also contacted The Freeport News last week to report incidents of dead birds along Grand Bahama's shores.

According to a website recommended by Wallace, hundreds of dead birds also washed ashore in Florida last week and though scientists are uncertain why these large numbers of birds died, starvation is suspected. This information might suggest a possible explanation but some residents are not quick to accept this data as an answer to their concerns.

"I'm looking for the Health Department to do their own research in our area and let the people know that dead birds could be washing up on shore," Christian said.

He also went on to say that while walking along one of Grand Bahama's beaches, he also came upon some dead birds.

"On the 26th, I went out and picked up four dead birds, within a mile, while walking down Williams Town Beach," he said.

At this point, the reason for the mass deaths of the birds remains unknown. Residents are concerned that the biggest threat is not knowing what the possible health hazards may be, resulting in the spread of misinformation.

"The biggest danger could be kids picking up the birds and playing with them or people stepping on them and becoming contaminated," Christian explained.

Some are speculating that the birds might be eating some hazardous materials in the water, meaning that some of the fish might also be contaminated. Others think that the birds may have fallen victim to the bird flu; either possibility warrants attention in the opinion of concerned residents.

The Freeport News was informed by Wallace that once information on the dead birds has been passed on to the Department of Agricul-ture, then, the issue is no longer in the hands of the DEHS. The Freeport News attempted to contact persons in charge at the Department of Agriculture yesterday but those individuals were unavailable.