13 June 2011

Mysterious deaths of hundreds of penguins in Uruguay

URUGUAY - The Associated Press has reported that about 600 dead Magellanic penguins have washed up on Uruguay's Atlantic coast. Experts are now trying to find out the cause of death.

A statement released by the Uruguay navy on Tuesday 7 June said that 200 dead penguins had been discovered on the shore at La Paloma. The officers had come across the dead penguins during a routine ocean patrol and alerted environmental authorities.

Marine animal rescue group SOS Rescate Fauna Marina said that 400 dead penguins had washed up around the resort town of Piriapolis along with dead turtles, dolphins and albatrosses over the weekend of 4 June. La Republica reported that the group had raised the possibility that Fertox, a highly toxic insecticide, was connected to their deaths. Nearly a thousand bags of Fertox had been found on the coast near Piriapolis. The group's co-ordinator, Richard Treasury, said that while it was not 100 per cent sure the animals died because of the chemicals, 12 of the animals rescued exhibited symptoms of poisoning such as dilated pupils and the inability to stand or walk.

While government authorities are investigating the possibility that Ferox is responsible, they say it is unlikely that the chemical is connected with the deaths. Director of the National Environmental Management, Jorge Rusks, told La Republica that the department could not say for certain at this point that the poison had no effect on the animals, but that is is very unlikely their deaths were due to its presence. He said it was more likely the deaths were because of natural causes.

According to the Associated Press, experts say it is common for dead penguins to appear in the area at this time of year, but this year the number is unusually high.

Misterio en la muerte de ping├╝inos y tortugas, 8 June 2011, La Republica
Uruguay: Cause sought for 600 dead penguins, 7 June 2011, Associated Press
Hundreds of dead penguins wash up on Uruguay shore by Alex Johnston, 7 June 2011, Epoch Times

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