ANNA MARIA ISLAND, Fla. - Days after a number of Laughing Gulls were found dead in Sarasota County, roughly two dozen of the birds were found deceased in Manatee County.

  • 2 Dozen Laughing Gulls found dead on Passage Key
  • More sick gulls discovered this week
  • Cause is under investigation
  • More Manatee County headlines

Over the past week, nine dead Laughing Gulls were found on beaches in Siesta and Lido Keys in Sarasota County and an additional 30 were reported sick. On Tuesday, wildlife officials confirm they received reports of dead birds on Passage Key off Anna Maria Island.

A handful of sick gulls were discovered by Anna Maria Island residents on Wednesday and brought to Wildlife Inc. for rehabilitation. Founder Ed Straight is working hard to nurse them back to health.

“We have been doing this for 32 years and we have never seen anything like this before,” he said.

Straight said the sick gulls were discovered by the Anna Maria City Pier and Coquina Beach.

“Right now I’m just trying to give them fluid and hydrate them until we can find out exactly what’s going on,” he said.

Only the Laughing Gull seems to be affected by this mystery illness, Straight said.

Officials with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are investigating the cause. Wildlife officials theorize the deaths could be linked to a viral outbreak, algae, runoff, or even possibly red tide.

The next red tide report comes out on Friday.