More than 530 brown pelicans have been found dead on beaches near Lima, Peru, and authorities don't yet understand why. According to the New York Times, estimates of the bird deaths may be as high as 1,500, including not only pelicans but also boobies and other seabirds. Preliminary investigations indicate malnutrition as a cause of death, and warmer than normal waters are decimating the anchoveta fish population, a major food source for these birds.
The bird deaths are not considered related to massive numbers of virus-caused dolphin deaths in the same region in recent months. While the investigation is ongoing, however, the public is urged to avoid contact with dead birds and to choose other areas to enjoy local beaches.
There are many natural and artificial causes of bird die-offs, and it is critical to determine the cause so any problems or threats can be resolved.
Photo © Kevin Cole