Around 2,000 dead Magellanic penguins have washed up on Uruguay’s beaches over the past ten days. It is not known why so many penguins died.
Uruguayan authorities determined that the penguins were not infected with bird flu, but most of them were young and may have died of starvation.
– They died at sea. 90 percent of them are young, have no fat reserves and have empty stomachs, explains Carmen Leizagoyen of the Uruguayan Ministry of the Environment.
According to the WWF World Wildlife Fund, this species of penguin is not considered endangered.
Suspicion of overfishing
Magellanic penguins nest along the Argentinian coast, but migrate north in search of food and warmer waters in summer.
– Some percentage of them still die, but not that many, says Leizagoyen.
Environmentalists believe overfishing contributed to the deaths of young penguins.
– In the 1990s, we started seeing animals that lacked food. Resources are being exploited, says Richard Tesore of the Marine Wildlife Rescue organization.
Cyclone in Brazil
A cyclone that hit southeastern Brazil in mid-July may also have contributed to the deaths of weaker animals, he believes.
Besides dead penguins, petrels, albatrosses, gulls, sea turtles and sea lions have recently been discovered along Uruguay’s beaches, Tesore says.
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