The recent mass deaths of birds, fish, crabs, manatees, penguins and other animals are now being tracked by Google Maps.
(A flock of red-winged blackbirds. 5,000 of these birds recently died in Arkansas; Wikimedia Commons Image)
"Aflockalypse," as the Washington Post and other news outlets are calling the bird die offs, can now be studied, along with the other animal deaths, online at the single Google webpage.
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The events appear to all date from December 2010 to the present - likely a choice of the map's creators, since previous events could have also been documented. The majority of the events are shown to have occurred in the United States, but the map also charts the following:
"100 tons of fish" dead in South America "Hundreds of snapper" perished in New Zealand "Thousands of fish" were found floating dead in the Philippines "150 tons of red tilapias" died in Thailand "Scores of dead fish" in Haiti 50-100 Jackdaws dead in Norway Over 300 doves dead in Italy and several more.
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The question has been asked: Why are animals dying off in Biblical proportions? Scott Wright, Branch Chief of Disease Investigations at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center said on the WNYC radio program "The Take Away" that "it's pretty common" and "die-offs occur all of the time."
I don't know about you, but that doesn't really give me any comfort.
Nonetheless, Wright and other experts are holding that the incidents are not related. Much of the interest, he suspects, is due to our increased attention to such news following the unusual deaths of 5,000 red-winged blackbirds on New Year's Eve in Arkansas, which the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission blames on fireworks.
Fireworks weren't going off when 40,000 dead crabs were found in the U.K., or when 2 million fish washed up dead on the shores of Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. Experts are blaming those particular events on the cold weather.