HUNDREDS of dead and dying shearwater birds are washing up on North Coast beaches, but Australian Seabird Rescue has assured concerned beachgoers that it is a natural phenomenon.

The birds, also known as muttonbirds, are migrating to their southern nesting grounds.

ASR general manager Kath Southwell said their deaths were "unfortunate, but natural".

"Every year, along the east coast of Australia and as far south as Tasmania, exhausted shearwaters wash ashore and often die following their annual migration," she said.

"We get a lot of calls from members of the public who are concerned about the birds but for many of them there is little that can be done."

Shearwaters can fly more than 15,000km for their migration.

If they encounter severe weather, or have trouble locating sufficient fish stocks along the way, they struggle to survive.

Some shearwaters have been banded by researchers. If you find a dead banded shearwater on a local beach, report it to the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Phone 6627 0200 or visit environment.gov.au/biodiversity/science/abbbs.



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