International Bird Rescue Research Center aids slimed seabirds
According to IBRRC:
In this case, a particular species of phytoplankton, typically seen off the coast of California, was found in the northern waters in extraordinarily high numbers, potentially linked to warmer-than-usual water temperature. Stormy weather churned the phytoplankton bloom into a soaplike foam. For aquatic birds, this can be deadly.Photo courtesy of P. Chilton/Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team
It is the structure of a feather and their alignment that insulates a bird from water and wind – like shingles on a roof. When something disrupts this, whether it is oil, dirt, or a surfactant such as this, the bird is exposed to the elements and will quickly become saturated and cold. If they do not get to land, they will drown, as many may have.