Posted by: Taylor Hoff | January 10, 2011

Thousands of Animals Dead in Global Mass Kills

On Wednesday, GeaPress reported hundreds — possibly thousands — of dead and dying birds in Italy. Countless turtle doves were found scattered in the streets, in flower beds and hanging tragically from trees “like Christmas balls” in the town of Faenza. Many of the birds that fell dead from the sky were discovered with a mysterious blue stain in their beaks.

In the past week, similar incidents of mass animal deaths have been reported across the world. Thousands of dead birds fell from the sky in Arkansas on New Year’s Eve, and similar incidents were reported on different days in Louisiana, Kentucky and Sweden. Two million fish were discovered dead in Maryland, with other fish kills also reported in Brazil, New Zealand and Arkansas — approximately 100 miles from the bird incident. 40,000 crabs washed up on England beaches in the past few days, as well.

While the events are likely unrelated, most still remain a mystery. Officials suggest fireworks are likely responsible for many of the bird deaths and that unusually cold weather could be to blame for the strange mass deaths of fish and crabs.

GeaPress suggests that the blue stains found in mouths of the dead and dying birds in Italy could be the result of poisoning or possibly signs of hypoxia. Both the local forest service and the WWF in Faenza have sent some of the dead birds for testing, though the results likely won’t be available for at least a week.

I am remarkably curious about these mass deaths occurring as of late. Have these been going on for years without anyone knowing, and the novelty of them is simply a side-effect of these kills finally being reported? Should we be worried about the triggers for these events? The majority of them appear to be caused by localized ecological events. They are occurring on different days and the events seem unrelated, but could the fish and crab kills could point towards hypoxia or ocean acidification, and the bird kills be explained by a failure to migrate to warmer climes in time?

For more information on these strange events, I’d refer to Wikipedia’s article on it to see if anything new reveals itself, as people study the reasons for this phenomenon:

2010-2011 midwinter animal mass death events

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