Hundreds of dead Magellan penguins have been gathered at beaches along the coast of Santa Catarina state, southern Brazil, apparently surprised by a subtropical cyclone when their annual migration from the south of the continent, Chile, Argentina, and the Falkland Islands towards warmer waters with more food.
Volunteers from animal protection organizations admit the exact cause of the marine birds has to be yet established, but the intensity of several days of storms also surprised other species such as turtles and other marine birds, and washed them ashore.
In one long sandy beach, Bacia do Santos, some 620 penguins were washed ashore, with most of them dead, 596. Magellan penguins migrate between June and October to the warmer waters of southern Brazil where they nurse their chicks.
According to the Monitoring Project from Praia da Bacia de Santos, which is specialized in veterinary care of sea animals, strong winds from the cyclone pushed many of the penguins to the coast.
Most commonly those that appear are those weakened by the effort or simply decomposed after dying in the high seas, according to Andre Barreto, head of the salvage project.
Barreto said that of the 622 found only 24 survived, but besides penguins, sea gulls, turtles and jellyfish were spread along the coast line. Penguins can't fly and end drowning since the wind and waves are too strong, and we underwent a cyclone with gales of over a hundred kilometers along the Santa Catarina coast.