On New Year's Eve, thousands of birds fell from the sky in Arkansas. 100 miles away, 100,000 fish washed up on the shores of a river. In Louisiana, Kentucky, the Chesapeake Bay, England, Sweden, and Brazil, too, dead animals were found in mass quantities—either washing ashore or falling from the sky. Are these events connected? What can they mean?SLIDESHOW: Shocking Mass Animal Deaths Around The World
Today, Planet 100 gives a quick guide to the mass animal die-off:
What is it?
It all started as Arkansas welcomed in the New Year with thousands of blackbirds falling from the sky—this soon became known as the so-called "Aflockalypse."
Elsewhere in the world similar incidents occurred: Massive fish kills in Brazil, New Zealand, Vietnam, the Arkansas River and the Chesapeake; more bird deaths in Louisiana, Kentucky, Sweden and Italy; and tens of thousands of dead crabs washing up on the shores in the U.K.
What's Going On?
Is the die-off part of some worldwide phenomena? So far no one single theory has been put forward to link all these occurrences together.
Rather they appear to be mostly isolated catastrophes. Officials suggest fireworks are likely responsible for many of the bird deaths and that unusually cold weather could be to blame for the mysterious mass death of fish and crabs.
Why the Mass Hysteria?
Why is everyone getting swept up in the die-off drama? Blame technology, says famed Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson.
The Internet and cell phones mean more people are noticing events and connecting the dots. While Google has even mapped of incidents of mass animal deaths around the world, with a link to a news report on each incident.
What's the Bigger Picture?
While mass die-offs are getting the attention, a larger but slower mass extinction of thousands of species is being largely ignored.
A Mother Nature Network iconograph reveals that in the last 500 years, 900 species of plants and animals have gone extinct and 10,000 more are close to making that list, with most of the damage being done in the last 100 years.
Which Animals are Most at Risk?
The animals most at risk of extinction, due to poaching and loss of habitat, are wild tigers, mountain gorillas and Javan rhinos.
Meanwhile polar bears are losing out to climate change, bluefin tuna are being devoured by sushi lovers and honeybees—essential to pollination and the health of our entire ecology—are dying off thanks to Colony Collapse Disorder.
More on Mass Animal Deaths:
Google Map Reveals Weird Weather Caused Half of Mass Animal Death Incidents
Massive Fish Kill in Mississippi River Not Due To BP Spill, State Biologists Say
Massive Cold-Weather Fish Kills Seen Across Florida
Mass Animal Deaths Around the World: Dead Birds Fall From Sky, Millions of Fish & Crabs Wash Ashore
Read more about extinctions:
The Sixth Extinction is Underway: Are You Worried Yet?
9 Species That Returned From Extinction in 2010 (Slideshow)
Thousands of Undiscovered Plants Face Extinction