Wednesday, Jan. 05, 2011

Chilean Birds (and Sardines)

Over the course of two months in 2009, millions of sardines, thousands of flamingos, hundreds of penguins and nearly 60 pelicans died in seemingly unrelated incidents. First, it was the penguins. About 1,200 were found dead in late March on a remote beach in southern Chile. Next, in April, millions of sardines washed ashore nearby. Then thousands of the rare Andean flamingo abandoned their nests in the north of Chile, leaving their 2,000 chicks to die in their shells. Lastly, in late May, nearly 60 pelicans were found dead on the South American nation's central coast. What's worse, no one could say concretely why these animals had died. While some pointed to global warming, overfishing, pollution or disease, most blamed Chile's especially dry and hot 2009 summer.