Mass Deaths of Birds and Fish

January 8, 2011 | Environment

Photo: AP

Everyone is wondering why thousands of birds and millions of fish are dying  at the same time and in the different parts of the globe.

In Arkansas, just after New Year’s Eve, around 5000 dead blackbirds fell from the sky. Fish were also dying in several parts of the United States waterways. The deaths of the birds and fish also occurred in Brazil, Britain, Sweden, Thailand and Japan.

People then started wondering if the end of the world is coming closer because the signs prophesied in the bible are happening.  While others are saying that it is due to the toxic chemicals and wastes polluting the air and water that is causing the death of these creatures.

Investigations showed that one of the possible causes of the bird deaths in Arkansas is the noise from the fireworks during the New Year’s Eve. The thundering sounds may have driven the birds to panic and to fly at a lower altitude, hitting houses and trees due to their poor vision at night.  Other cause was the cold weather in Louisiana which caused the death of around 500 birds.

On the other hand, the millions of dead fish in the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, were reported to be due to overpopulation and also of the very low water temperatures in December, the coldest in 25 years.

The causes of the mass deaths of birds and fish in other parts of the world are still being investigated and studied.  But according to wildlife experts, diseases in birds and fish are the most frequent cause of deaths in large scale.

Similar incident of dead birds falling from the sky also happened in 1960 but was only reported locally and went unnoticed.

Update:

On March 20, 2011, millions of fish were found dead and washed up in the marina of Redondo Beach in Southern California. Test results of the harbour water showed that the oxygen level was almost zero and this caused the mass deaths of the fish.

There was a heavy rainfall prior to this incident and nutrients like lawn fertiliser and dog droppings were washed into the water along the coast.

In 2003 and 2005 mass deaths of fish were also reported at King Harbour in Los Angeles, California. The investigations conducted by marine biologists revealed that due to algal blooms in the water the level of oxygen dropped and suffocated the fish.

What is algal bloom? This is when the growth of algae becomes increasingly fast due to conditions in the environment that are favourable like the presence high nutrients. Water pollution caused by fertilizers is an important factor in algal blooms.  However, when the algae die, the oxygen level in the water goes down causing suffocation to the aquatic fauna and flora.
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