The mystery of mass animal death epidemic deepens after 8.000 turtle doves fall dead in Italy with strange blue stain on their beaks. The blue stains are believed to be sign of poisoning or hypoxia – lack of oxygen. Hypoxia, a lack of oxygen, is known to cause confusion and illness in animals. It is also a common precursor to altitude sickness. Experts said results from tests on the doves will not be available for at least a week.
“We have no idea why this happened all of a sudden.The doves just started falling one-by-one then in groups of 10’s and 20’s.”
Residents in Faenza described the birds falling to the ground like “little Christmas balls” with strange blue stains on their beaks. Thousands of dead turtle doves rained down on roofs and cars in an Italian town in the latest in a growing spate of mass animal deaths across the globe.
Initial tests on up to 8,000 of the doves indicated that the blue stain could have been caused by poisoning or hypoxia, the UK Daily Mail reports.
A witness told www.examiner.com: “We have no idea why this happened all of a sudden. The doves just started falling one-by-one then in groups of 10’s and 20’s.”
Hypoxia, a lack of oxygen, is known to cause confusion and illness in animals. It is also a common precursor to altitude sickness.
Experts says results from tests on the doves will not be available for at least a week.
They say that cold weather could have caused the birds’ deaths as the flock was swept into a high-altitude wind storm before falling to the earth.
The alarming find is being blamed by authorities in Maryland on the stress caused by unusually cold water and over breeding among spot fish.
That investigation comes just days after the deaths of an estimated 100.000 fish in northwest Arkansas, which is being blamed on disease.
A statement by the Maryland Department of the Environment says: “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.”
Preliminary tests of the water in Chesapeake Bay have showed the quality was “acceptable,” officials says.
The statement adds: ‘The affected fish are almost exclusively juvenile spot fish, three to six inches in length. 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.”
Mass winter deaths among spot fish have occurred twice before in the Maryland area – in 1976 and 1980.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Here’s some of the latest news stories:
And here’s some of stories that have made headlines over the last two weeks:
- 450 red-winged blackbirds, brown-headed cowbirds, grackles and starlings found littering a highway in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- 3,000 blackbirds on roofs and roads in the small town of Beebe, Arkansas
- Thousands of ‘devil crabs’ washed up along the Kent coast near Thanet
- Thousands of drum fish washed along a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River
- Two million small fish in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland
- Thousands of dead fish found floating in warm Florida creek
- Hundreds of snapper fish found dead in New Zealand
- Scores of American Coots found dead on Texas highway bridge
Not The End of Nature
Experts have speculated that New Year fireworks, thunderstorms, cold weather, parasites and even poisoning may be behind the deaths.
But conspiracy theorists have also speculated on the internet that secret government experiments could be behind them, with some even claiming it was a sign of a looming Armageddon at the end of the Mayan calendar next year.
Another theory is that the rapid movement of the Magnetic North Pole towards Russia may have affected the birds’ innate navigation systems.
However – wildlife health experts says that these mortality events happen every year but we are just beginning to notice them now, ThaiIndian News writes on their website.
“This is really not the unusual thing that people are trying to make it into,” Robert Meese, ecologist at the University of California, Davis, says in an interview with Discovery News. “A lot of this stuff happens without anyone documenting it.”
Meese adds that there are many reasons for such massive die-offs – bad weather, migratory birds accidentally ingesting pesticides or even poisons or birds losing their way due to disorientation by fog or storms.
Records kept by the United States Geological Survey list at least 16 die-offs of more than 1.000 blackbirds or starlings over the past 30 years, according to Marisa Lubeck, spokesperson for the USGS in Denver.
But group deaths among animals have been going on for a lot longer than that. In one case, an estimated 1.5 million Lapland Longspurs died during a March 1904 storm in Minnesota and Iowa.
And such phenomena occur amongst fish, whales, seals and even turtles
“I think people are very often surprised that this kind of phenomenon happens, that wildlife are susceptible to disease and that there are large outbreaks in the wild, because they often go unseen,” says Paul Slota, spokesperson for the USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Madisonn.
“I think people should be aware that mortality events in wildlife are normal. They are a fact of life.”
Related by The Swapper:
- The end of the world is nigh? (thesun.co.uk)
- Animal death mystery: Two MILLION dead fish wash up in Maryland bay (dailymail.co.uk)
- Thousands of turtle doves drop dead from the sky in Italy in latest bizarre mass animal deaths (mirror.co.uk)
- More than 1,000 turtle doves fall from the sky in Italy in latest mass bird death case (telegraph.co.uk)
- Mass animal deaths… what’s going on? (gadling.com)