ANIMAL MASS DEATH EVENTS

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The 2010–2011 midwinter animal mass death events gained considerable publicity worldwide. Media attention was particularly high for this period. This is despite the fact that the mass deaths of fish and of birds are quite common. Other livestock have also been affected.

Below is only a few of the incidents reported their have been numerous others. The list for 2012 is extremely shocking, please google Mass Animal Deaths 2012 list for more information.

January 2010

Beaches at Thanet, Kent, England 20000+ dead velvet crabs – along with dead starfish, lobsters, sponges and anemones. Probably killed by hypothermia.

September 2010

Mississippi River; Plaquemines Paris, Louisiana 100,000 redfish, trout, flounder.

December 2010

St-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Quebec. More than 80 dead pigeons.

In the last week of December, 83,000 dead and dying drum fish washed up along a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River, about 100 miles west of Beebe, Arkansas. The cause was speculated to be disease while full test results were expected after one month.

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                                    Drum fish

Shortly before midnight on New Year's Eve between 3,000 and 5,000 red-winged blackbirds fell from the sky in Beebe. Most were dead on the ground but some were living but dazed. Laboratory tests have been performed and the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission, the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin as well as the University of Georgia's wildlife disease study group have procured specimens of the dead birds. In addition to the blackbirds a few grackles and starlings also fell from the sky in the same incident. A test report from the state poultry lab concluded that the birds had died from blunt trauma. An unlicensed fireworks discharge was the likely cause.

The Beebe bird deaths were repeated again on New Year's Eve of the following year, with the reported number of dead birds being 5,000.

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                           Red Winged Blackbirds

December 31, 2010, in Guelph, Ontario. Geese and ducks panicked, some of them died shortly after the beginning of New Year's Eve fireworks.

January 2011

Between December 28, 2010 and January 3, 2011, 100 tons of dead fish washed ashore along the Brazilian coast.

On January 3, more than 500 starlings, red-winged blackbirds and sparrows fell dead in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, USA.

Also on January 3, an estimated 2 million dead fish were found floating in the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, USA.

On January 5, "hundreds" of dead turtle doves were found at Faenza, Italy. According to Italian news agencies, a huge number of the birds were found to have blue stains on their beaks that could be caused by paint or hypoxia.

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                                 Turtle Doves

January 5, 2011, in Falköping in Sweden. Between 50 and 100 jackdaws died. Some are believed to have been struck by cars or trucks, but others showed no sign of such trauma.

January 5, 2011, in Constanța, Romania. Eyewitnesses saw dozens of starlings falling from skies "like stones". 

Over the weekend of January 8–9, "over a hundred" dead birds were found clustered together on a California Highway, while "thousands of dead gizzard shad" (a species of fish) turned up in the harbors of Chicago.

On January 14, approximately 200 cows were found dead in a field in Stockton, Wisconsin. The owner of the cattle has told deputies that he suspected the animals died of infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), or bovine virus diarrhea (BVD). The authorities in Wisconsin sent samples from the carcasses to labs in Madison, to determine cause of death.

March 2011

On March 7, millions of small fish, including anchovies, sardines, and mackerel were found dead in the area of King Harbor at Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A. An investigation by the authorities within the area concluded that the sardines had become trapped within the harbor, depleted the ambient oxygen, which resulted in the deaths. The authorities stated that the event was "unusual, but not unexplainable."

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                 Millions of dead fish at King Harbour

October 2011

October 22, 2011, in Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada. Thousands of dead loons, ducks, and seagulls washed ashore in this popular beach area, believed to have died from a botulism outbreak.

December 2011

December 12, 2011, in Utah, about 1,500 grebes crash-landed on a Walmart parking lot, a highway, and football fields, apparently mistaking them for a body of water at night.

December 31, 2011, Nordreisa, Troms, Norway several tons of herring.

Explanations

According to most scientists, massive die offs of animals are not unusual in nature and happen for a variety of reasons including bad weather, disease outbreaks and poisonings, with pollution and climate change adding to the stresses on wildlife. The U.S. Geological Service's website listed about 90 mass deaths of birds and other wildlife from June through December 12. For instance, Louisiana's State Wildlife Veterinarian Jim LaCour has stated that there have been 16 similar mass blackbird deaths in the past 30 years. According to Italy's WWF president Giorgio Tramonti, mass dove deaths like the ones that occurred in Italy have never happened before 2010. The event in Arkansas was attributed primarily to an unexpected temperature change causing turbulence, visible on NEXRAD Doppler weather radar images, above their roosting areas which disoriented them.

Apocalypse

Some Christians assert that this particular cluster of animal mass deaths is a sign of the Apocalypse. They reference a passage in the Book of Hosea in the Hebrew Bible which reads: "By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood," and the prophecy continues "Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away."

Mon, 25/06/2012 - Headline I spotted today while adding this article.

Thousands of Marine Animals Found Dead on the Peruvian Coastline

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Hundreds of dolphins and thousands of pelicans have been found dead on the beaches of the Peruvian coastline.  While it is not entirely rare for such a dynamic coastline to experience its fair share of animal sightings and deaths, the sheer number involved in this case (as well as the fact that a couple of different species are involved) has left scientists and government officials scratching their heads. 

Already the bodies of more than 4,450 pelicans and almost 900 dolphins have littered the country’s beaches, raising health concerns and forcing the Peruvian Ministry of Health to close many of the beaches that occupy the 1,500-mile coastline, from its capital city of Lima and northward.  In the past, similar cases of mass pelican deaths have been recorded—most notably in 1982-1983 and 1997-1998 when El Nino was deemed largely to blame for warmer ocean temperatures.  And scientists believe that this year is no different.

Carlos Bocanegra, a biologist at the National University of Trujillo, believes that a warming ocean is responsible this time around—temperatures in the region have averaged 10 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) warmer than the same time last year.  According to Bocanegra, as the water warms, populations of anchovies (the pelicans preferred meal) move to deeper water, making it harder for younger pelicans to dive down and feed.  Of the 10 dying pelicans Bocanegra examined, the digestive tracks were found to be either empty or contained the remains of fish that are not a usual part of their diets.

Further evidence that this is the case has come from fisherman in the northern region of Lambayeque, who claimed that since the end of January daily catches of anchovetas drew in noticeably less and less than the average five tons a day. 

Yet even with a clearer idea surrounding the death of the birds, the dead dolphins continue to remain largely a mystery.  Many coastal areas around the world are no strangers to dead dolphins washing up on the shoreline; however, the numbers that Peru has seen are higher than usual and thus a reason for concern.  Initially, scientists believed that this anomaly could have been a result of agrochemical runoff from rivers that introduce heavy metals and pesticides into the ocean.  However, testing has gone on to overrule much of these claims. 

What is perhaps most plausible is that the dolphins were affected by a controversial method of locating oil deposits on the ocean floor which utilizes shock waves produced by sonar explosions.  Between February 8 and April 8 of this year, BPZ Energy (a Houston-based energy company) has been conducting seismic testing in an area off the northern coast of Peru.  The company has gone on to deny claims that their work may be involved in the dolphin deaths, but conservationists are not easily convinced.

Carlos Yaipen, of the sea mammal conservation group Orca, testified at a congressional hearing that autopsies of the dolphins found that dolphins in the area suffered from internal hemorrhages, collapsed livers, and broken bones in the ears—evidence that strongly points to such sonic damage.  “In microscopic exams we found fatty tissue with a great quantity of surrounding bubbles and hemorrhages,” explained Yaipen.  “This happens when there is a strong sound in the fatty tissue, in the mandibular fat where sounds are received.”

As the quest for answers continues, one thing that remains certain is that Peru’s coastal protection programs could use some work. An economist who has worked closely with public interest groups involved with coastal preservation, Juan Carlos Sueiro, says that this mass of deaths brings attention to Peru’s lack of readiness for crises like this. “Peru doesn’t have a policy of coastal territory management,” Sueiro explained. “It is probably the most backward in the entire region. 

Many hope that this new attention on the South American country will put the pressure on the government to improve their ability to protect their coastlines by strengthening their management of the coastal territory.

 

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