2,000 Penguins Found Dead on Uruguay Coast, Cause Remains a Mystery

Approximately 2,000 penguins have been discovered dead along the eastern coast of Uruguay over the past 10 days.

Uruguay: Approximately 2,000 penguins have been discovered dead along the eastern coast of Uruguay over the past 10 days. The cause of this, which does not seem to be related to avian influenza, is still unknown, as confirmed by authorities.

The majority of the deceased penguins are juveniles of the Magellanic species. They were found in the Atlantic Ocean before being carried to the shores of Uruguay. According to Carmen Leizagoyen, the head of the Environment Ministry’s department of fauna, about 90 percent of the dead penguins were young and lacked adequate fat reserves.

Magellanic penguins usually nest in southern Argentina and migrate north during the southern hemisphere winter to find food and warmer waters.

While some level of mortality among penguins is normal, the unusually high number of deaths has raised concerns among experts. A similar die-off occurred in Brazil last year, also for unknown reasons.

Hector Caymaris, the director of the Laguna de Rocha protected area, reported finding over 500 dead penguins along a six-mile stretch (10 kilometers) of the Atlantic coast.

Environmental advocates have attributed the increase in Magellanic penguin deaths to overfishing and illegal fishing activities that have led to a lack of food resources for these creatures. Richard Tesore, representing the NGO SOS Marine Wildlife Rescue, stated that since the 1990s and 2000s, they have observed animals suffering from food scarcity due to overexploitation of marine resources.

Furthermore, a subtropical cyclone that struck southeastern Brazil in mid-July might have contributed to weaker penguins succumbing to adverse weather conditions.

Apart from penguins, other marine species such as petrels, albatrosses, seagulls, sea turtles, and sea lions have also been found dead on the beaches of Maldonado, a department located east of Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo.

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