The Case of the Mysterious Bird Carcasses Littering an Otherwise Empty Beach

May 15, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Time: Last Night

Place: The Beach

 

 

"Whoa. Did you see this?" I ask Andrea.  "A dead bird."

 

And I begin snapping photos.

 

"Here's another one," she replies, pointing down the beach.  And her finger shifts to point further down the horizon.  "And another one.  And another...."

 

They were all along the stretch of beach that lined the small community of beach houses where we've been staying.  Largely, with the exception of security guards patrolling the premises on bicycles, we've had the place to ourselves.  And now, these birds... They'd come from seemingly nowhere.  They weren't there the day before, as far as I knew.

 

They were lining the shoreline in all stages of decay.  A smattering of species, too.  What was the cause?  Pesticides?  Did someone kill them?  Did the tide wash them up?  Did they collide with aliens spaceships?  

 

Scooby-Doooooooo!  Where are you?!?!?!

 

It turns out something similar happened last year around this time, and while not solved concretely, there is a theory.  Last year, 2,300 hundred birds were discovered on the shoreline in Chile.  Simultaneously, in the north of Peru, FIVE THOUSAND birds were found dead.

 

 

 

 

Who is the voodoo hoodlum behind this?

 

A chain of events, apparently, beginning with climate change.  (Why, oh why, is it always climate change?!)  Short story is this: marine waters are warming.  This creates less-than-ideal living conditions for sardines and anchovies.  They head south, seeking cooler waters.

 

So, in Peru, this is what happens:

 

1. The food leaves.

2. The birds starve.

 

And so what's up with the birds in Chile, who all of the sudden have a plethora of delicacies upon which they can feast?

 

Because of all this food, the birds have lost the incentive to begin their migration.  The fisherman begin their season.  And a insanely huge number of birds around during the fishing season means that there more birds to be caught in nets, drown, and subsequently be washed back on shore.

 

So, mystery solved, it seems, though it's one of those endings that you don't feel super stoked about.

 

 


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