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Hundreds of dead Magellanic penguins in southern Chile

Tuesday, March 31st 2009 - 05:11 UTC
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Hundreds of dead Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus Magellanicus) have washed ashore in Chile’s Region XI the past several days, the Santiago daily La Tercera reported Sunday. So far experts are in the dark about what’s killing the sea birds, more than 800 of which have been found on the beaches of Las Niñas and Los Piojos near Queule.

Rodrigo Zambrano, a maritime official in Valdivia (Region XIV), said the penguins do not appear to be poisoned in any way. He said Magellanic penguins are periodically killed by fishing boat nets, but never by the hundreds.

Four of the bird carcasses have been sent to Valdivia’s Universidad Austral for testing.

Magellanic penguins are native to the waters around Chile, Argentina and the Falkland Islands.

Although they are not an endangered species, they, are vulnerable to oil spills and – according to a penguin expert from the University of Washington – climate change.

Rising temperatures are displacing fish, forcing Magellanic penguins to swim an average of 25 miles further from their nesting search of food, professor Dee Boersma discovered.

The extra “commute” is also shortening their breeding period, she found. (Santiago Times)

Categories: Environment, Latin America.

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