Dead Shellfish, Birds Found in Large Numbers

Over the last couple years, mass deaths of various animals have been reported all over the world. In 2011, the streets of Murray, Kentucky, were littered with the carcasses of hundreds of dead birds, ranging from grackles to robins. In Beebe, Arkansas, residents rang in the New Year by watching approximately 5,000 blackbirds plummet from the sky, the animals either dead or dying.

There have been other reports of dead birds in Stockholm, Sweden, and millions of dead fish were found in the Chesapeake Bay, also in 2011.

More recently, on Lima's Pucusana Beach, thousands of dead krill washed ashore. These aren't the first reported mass animal deaths in Lima; several months previously, nearly 1,000 dead dolphins were found on the northern coast. Of course, mass deaths of fish are not that uncommon, especially when weather patterns are strikingly different from normal. If the waters are too cold for the animals to survive, and they haven't had a chance to move to warmer pockets of the ocean, they will not be able to survive.

Furthermore, animal deaths themselves are not unusual. Disease, parasites, environmental pollution, and fighting among different species are all frequent causes. The sheer volume of deaths, however, has end-of-the-world enthusiasts calling out premature I-told-you-sos.

Different theories proposed to explain the mass animal deaths include pollution, radiation, and consequences from the oil spill. Some believe the animals have somehow been poisoned, while others blame droughts and odd weather patterns. Whatever the case, we hear more about the deaths that occur in large cities or suburban areas than in more remote corners of the world.

Fortunately, there have been no recent reports of raining frogs or uncontrollable lice.

Combined with the end-of-the-world prophecies concerning 2012, these mass animal deaths have created a stir. Even if there is a rational explanation for the large numbers, they could very well indicate an imbalance in weather, tides, and other natural phenomena, each if which is, in one way or another, linked to Armageddon.

It is also important to remember that, in more populated areas, dead birds falling from the sky and dead fish washing up on shores can cause significant ecological and health issues. The birds can create traffic accidents, while rotting fish and crustaceans pose risks for animals that might eat those carcasses.

Wildlife experts are investigating the mass animal deaths in hopes of reaching a definitive conclusion. In the meantime, while panic is not a practical use of our time, it wouldn't hurt to glance up at the sky every once in a while. We wouldn't want to miss the eventual rain of toads.