“Large numbers of animals have mysteriously died recently, from the thousands of birds found dead in two southern U.S. states to 100,000 dead fish in Arkansas. TIME takes a look at other mass animal deaths, the mystery of many of which is still unsolved.” Read more:
‘Over the first weekend of the new year 2011, thousands of red-winged blackbirds fell dead from the sky. Two days later, some 500 blackbirds dropped dead in Louisiana.’
‘March 2011: Approx. 1,200 penguins were found dead on a remote beach in southern Chile.’
‘April 2011: Millions of sardines washed ashore nearby. In addition, thousands of the rare Andean flamingo abandoned their nests in the north of Chile, leaving their 2,000 chicks to die in their shells. Even worse, no one could say concretely why these animals had died.’
‘April 2011: According to Francisco Nique, president of the Association of Fishermen of Puerto Eten, in the span of 10 or 12 days, 1,200 dead pelicans along 160 kilometers have been found between Punta Negra, in Piura, and San Jose creek in Lambayeque. Perú 21 press.’
‘October 2011: Thousands of dead waterfowl wash ashore at Wasaga Beach, Canada. The Star.’
‘January 2012: Dead herring mystery for Norway; locals left scratching their heads after twenty tons of the dead creatures are found on beaches in Nordreisa. The Guardian.’
‘May 2012: 60,000—100,000 dead fish found in three creeks in Maryland USA. Baltimore Sun.’
‘May 2012: Thousands of Mozambique Tilapia found dead since last week, experts blame pollutants in the river. Ironically, Mozambique Tilapia is considered as one of the most resilient species of fish, known to withstand unfriendly environmental conditions. Pune Mirror.’
‘May 2012: At least 2,300 dead birds were found along beaches between Cartagena and Playa de Santo Domingo, Chile. CNN International.’
‘May 2012: The Peruvian government reported 5,000 birds, mostly pelicans, and nearly 900 dolphins have died off the country's northern coast, possibly due to rising temperatures in Pacific waters. Scientists scrambled to pin down what caused such a massive toll. AFP.’
Strange deaths had caused alarm among naturalists and environmentalists in all nations. Birds fell dead from the sky, fish washed up on shores and rivers across the whole planet, but people had other things to care and worry about. Mainstream media focused on economic crises, financial scandals, huge losses from banks, sovereign states at risk of defaulting in the Euro zone, the Arab spring, and the global war on terror.
Why the interest in bird and fish deaths: don’t they die every day? Such news was almost whispered as unimportant, or used as filler for a column on some inner page. Local TV channels sometimes reported the facts though as a strange and abrupt twist of the normal course of natural events: interesting—for a second—but nothing to see, move on.
Whoever tried to talk seriously about the animal deaths—trying to discover a pattern—was treated as a weirdo, a delusional simpleton seeing conspiracy around every corner. People reacted to the deaths with raised shoulders, regarding the unexplained quirk about the natural world as worth no more. Some even accused naturalists of trying to profit from the quirkiness to grab more funds for their research and projects.
Regardless, thousands of dead birds and tons of fishes had been found floating ashore, belly up, without any apparent reason. “The sky is not falling,” people said. Indeed it was not the sky that was falling, only previously live and healthy winged animals. Yet too many fell…well, they were just birds, weren’t they?
We had enough reasons to wonder what killed them, clear signs that something was seriously wrong. Initial investigations showed evidence of unnatural events, damage in the breast tissue, blood clots in the body cavities, and much internal bleeding. All major organs though were normal.
In some cases, acute physical trauma led to hemorrhage and death with no sign of any chronic or infectious diseases. Thousands of animals of the same species suffering a traumatic end all together—all of a sudden—around the world with no apparent cause or link. Concerted investigations should have started but nobody pushed for those. Instead, county veterinarians scrambled to provide plausible explanations. Results from preliminary testing had been released to the news by the Livestock and Poultry Commission’s Veterinary Diagnostic Lab. They showed birds, which fell by the thousands, dead from internal collapse—whatever that meant. No explanations were given as to what caused the massive traumas and why.
The Internet covered the deaths with genuine interest to look for causes. Threads and blogs were filled with plots calling for plans between the Zionists, Fascists, Falun Gong supporters, and aliens from planet Zark. Conspiracy theories soon killed all discussions and, in a sense, also prevented genuine forensic work to be conducted: What serious scientist craves association with lunatics wearing tin-foil caps?
Some officials started to release the first explanation at hand. They speculated on causes for the bird deaths ranging from fireworks, the weather, noxious fumes, chemtrails sprayed by airliners, or ‘sonic booms.’ Anything that could be used to put the stories to rest, and quickly. Some believed the birds might have been frightened to death by the blasts or killed by the scores in traffic accidents.
"We received information from local residents last night. Our main theory is that birds got scared because of the fireworks. Thus, they landed on the road, but couldn't fly away due to the stress and were hit by a car," one official explained to ‘The Local’, Sweden’s online news in English. The Sveriges Radio Skaraborg also reported the news and stated the birds had been found dead on the streets in Falköping, southeast of Skövde.
He added the animals likely had difficulty orienting themselves in the dark. That in itself would be news. No one talked much about the fishes, like the two million dead in Chesapeake Bay or the dead drums washed ashore along twenty miles of the Arkansas River.
People had more important issues to deal with; the world faced a period of great uncertainty and huge changes affecting everyone at every level. Global terrorism stopped us from seeing what was happening. In those months people were thinking of other things. Everyone wondered whether they'd be next in the vicious round of terrorist bombings and retaliations affecting every country in the world.
Who cared if some wild animals were dying when members of your own family might not come home that night? Humanity had missed its only vital clue. The link was there. We were the sapient species on earth, clever enough to connect the dots, no matter how far apart they were. We should have done our job. Connect them. We were too busy, too preoccupied with other facts to ask ourselves: What the hell is happening?
Nature’s red flags went unnoticed and animals—scores of them—kept dying. We kept living our own lives…