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More than 500 dead penguins on Brazilian shores worry biologists

July 18, 2012

A slew of dead penguins have washed up on Brazil's shores, and Brazilian biologists are currently investigating the reason these birds died. BBC News reports more than 500 Magellanic penguins have been found dead on the beaches of Rio Grande do Sul, and they all appeared to be well-fed with no signs of injuries or oil on their bodies to explain their demise.

Last week, animal rescue teams collected nearly 40 penguins that had overstayed their welcome on the shores of Rio de Janeiro. According to BBC, these birds migrate north from Patagonia to southern Brazil every year when temperatures drop, but they had dwelled a bit longer than normal, causing worry among experts. The nation's environmental agency plans to fly these birds back south soon.

CNN reports experts at the Brazilian Center for Coastal Studies at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, known as Ceclimar, are claiming the cause of death is natural. They also said the vast majority of the dead birds were young.

"Birds in the first year of life are inexperienced," Mauricio Tavares, a Ceclimar biologist, told CNN. "The animals usually migrate from Argentina around this time of year in search of food and warmer weather, and each year some do wash up. But over 500 is a very, very high number."

Researchers at the center are going to further analyze 30 of these birds to gain a better understand of why such a large number of the creatures died this year. The news source indicates their report will not be complete for at least another month. Those who want to find out more about the penguin tragedy can makes calls to Brazil with phone cards to get the latest updates from their friends.

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