No one quite knows why, but around 500 dead penguins have washed ashore on Brazilian beaches in the past week and a half. (via the Associated Press)
Mostly Magellan penguins–believed to have been migrating north–have been found in Brazil’s Sao Paulo state. Biologists who’ve conducted autopsies on the birds have found that many of them had completely empty stomachs, leading experts to believe the penguins starved to death.
This is the typical time of year for penguins to migrate north and while it’s normal for several to succumb to the hazards of the journey, scientists are worried about the huge number of dead penguins that have been found in only 10 days. They are now investigating what could be causing such a huge spike in deaths.
So far, possibilities include colder-than-normal temperatures–which could affect the food supply–or humans over-fishing in the area.
See TIME.com’s story on a similar phenomenon, when last year the bodies of 1,200 penguins were found in Chile.