Mystery: 500 Dead Penguins Wash Up on Brazilian Beaches

dead penguin photo
Photo: Flickr, CC

On the Average Year, Only About 10 Dead Penguins are Found in that Area

Over just the past 10 days, around 500 dead penguins have washed up on beaches in the Sao Paolo state of Brazil. What killed the black-and-white birds is still a mystery, though the autopsy of some of the dead birds has revealed empty stomachs, meaning that starvation could be the cause of death. But if that's the case, what is the cause of the starvation? The plot thickens. Read on for more details.

dead penguin photo
Photo: Flickr, CC

"an absurdly high number of penguins that have appeared dead in a short period"

Most of the carcasses were of Magellan penguins who, at this time of year, are migrating north from Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands. It's normal for a few penguins to die and wash up on the shores of Brazil, but not in those numbers.

[Thiago do Nascimento of the Peruibe Aquarium] said between 100 and 150 penguins showed up on the beaches every year, but that they were normally alive, with only around 10 washed up dead in an average year. (source)

dead penguin photo
Photo: Flickr, CC

Cause of Death: Unknown

What I'm wondering is if the cause of dead was natural, man-made (f.ex. over-fishing making the types of fish that penguins eat scarcer), or maybe a mix of both (f.ex. climate change changing the conditions in the penguin habitat beyond what they can survive). Scientists are currently investigating, so we'll have to wait to know more and solve this mystery.

WATCH VIDEO: Planet Earth: Ice World: Penguins

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Tags: Animals | Brazil


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