"Mass Wildlife Kills Occur All the Time, Experts Say"

"It's death on a wide scale, biblical-type stuff: Millions of spot fish died last week in the Chesapeake Bay; red-winged blackbirds tumbled from the skies by the thousands in Arkansas and Kentucky over the holidays; and tens of thousands of pogies, drum fish, crab and shrimp went belly up in the summer in a Louisiana bayou.

For an explanation of these mysterious events, some have turned to Scripture or to the Mayan calendar, which suggests the world will end in 2012. But wildlife experts say these massive wildlife kills were not the result of a man-made disaster or a spooky sign of the apocalypse.

They happen in nature all the time.

In Arkansas, state and federal biologists say they think that sleeping birds probably heard a loud boom in the night and freaked out. In Louisiana, low-oxygen ocean water regularly creeps into the higher-oxygen bayou and suffocates fish and crustaceans.

Maryland wildlife biologists are still investigating the deaths of 2 million spot and some croaker, also known as drum fish. But they have a theory: These fish are particularly vulnerable to cold and were killed when water temperatures dropped suddenly and sharply in late December. Most of the dead were juveniles."

Darryl Fears reports for the Washington Post January 9, 2011.


"Mass Bird Deaths Rare, Not Apocalyptic: Experts" (Reuters)

"Mass Animal Deaths: An Environmental Whodunit" (New York Times)

"Showers of Blackbirds Air Out Conspiracy Theories" (Bloomberg)

Source: Wash Post, 01/10/2011