January 8, 2011
Italy Bird Deaths Add To Mystery
The mystery of the mass animal death epidemic deepens after 8,000 turtle doves fall dead in Italy with strange blue stains on their beaks.
Initial testing of the stains is believed to be a sign of poisoning or hypoxia -- lack of oxygen that is a sign of altitude sickness. Hypoxia is known to cause confusion and illness in animals. Experts said full test results may not be available for at least a week.
Thousands of dead turtle doves littered roofs and cars in the Italian town of Faenza in what has become part of a mass animal death epidemic that is spanning the globe. Residents of the town described the birds falling to the ground like "Ëlittle Christmas balls' with strange blue stains on their beaks.
"We have no idea why this happened all of a sudden. The doves just started falling one-by-one then in groups of 10s and 20s," one witness told Examiner.com.
Experts said the cold weather may have caused the birds' deaths as the flock was swept into a high-altitude wind storm before falling to earth.
Other explanations have surfaced for the mass bird deaths in other parts of the world, including in Beebe, Arkansas, where more than 3,000 blackbirds died shortly after New Year's. Officials said the deaths may have been from New Year's fireworks celebrations, high-altitude hail or lightning. Initial testing there ruled out poisoning as a cause for the mass deaths, and further testing revealed the birds died from blunt force trauma.
Birds in Louisiana, Texas, and Sweden have also been found dead in great numbers, baffling many experts.
One possible reason for the bird deaths is the rapid movement of the Magnetic North Pole towards Russia, which throws off birds' innate navigational system, which confuses them and causes them to fly erratically in all directions.
Conspiracy theorists have their own theories.
Some have speculated that secret government experiments may be to blame for the mass bird, fish and other animal deaths that have occurred in the last week or so. Some others claim it is a sign of a looming Armageddon at the end of the Mayan calendar next year.
Whatever it is, it is definitely disturbing.
As many as 100,000 fish turned up dead in an Arkansas river just days after the bird deaths in Beebe and in Louisiana. And up to 2 million fish were found washed up on shores in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland this week.
The alarming discovery in Maryland is being blamed on the stress caused by unusually cold water and overbreeding among spot fish.
A statement released by the Maryland Department of the Environment said "Natural causes appear to be the reason."
"Cold water stress exacerbated by a large population of the affected species (juvenile spot fish) appears to be the cause of the kill," the statement said.
Preliminary tests of the water in Chesapeake Bay have showed the water quality was acceptable, officials said.
"The affected fish are almost exclusively juvenile spot fish, three to six inches in length," the statement added.
"A recent survey showed a very strong population of spot in the bay this year. An increased juvenile population and limited deep water habitat would likely compound the effects of cold water stress," it said.
Mass winter deaths among spot fish have occurred twice before in the Maryland area -- in 1976 and 1980.
Thousands of dead fish were also reportedly found floating in a warm Florida creek and hundreds of snapper fish were found dead in New Zealand. Also, thousands of dead devil crabs washed up along the Kent coast near Thanet in England.
The shifting of the Magnetic North Pole could be the key to this baffling puzzle. Scientists have said it is shifting at an average of around 25 miles per year.
With birds and fish relying on it to travel to breeding grounds and warmer climates, there are fears that the shifting could be confusing animals which means they do not migrate in time to avoid cold weather.
Tests are being carried out on the dead animals, but results are not expected for several weeks.
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