Mass animal deaths are one of the strangest phenomenon in the natural world. For mysterious reasons, thousands of animals of all types either die or kill themselves jumping by off cliffs or washing up on shore. With climate change altering the environment, these unexplained animal deaths are becoming more common.
Just in the the past decade, there have been huge, mass deaths of fish, squid, birds, animals, and amphibians. Some have been isolated mass suicides, happening in animals that don't even know how to commit suicide. Others involve thousands or even millions of animal deaths, with thick carpets of fish or shrimp washing up on beaches. And few things are more unsettling than looking out to see flocks of birds falling from the sky, or pods of whales flopping around on a beach slowly dying.Even when the cause of a die-off is known, such as regular sardine busts or the Mongolian zud mass death, we don't know why it's even worse than normal. All of these cases of mass animal death are either happening for unknown reason, or we've figured out the reason, but not the reason for its severity.
Scientists think it may take as long as a week to figure out why so many dead seals are washing up in Maine https://t.co/sCMef7Ohvk— CBS 21 News (@CBS21NEWS) August 19, 2018
Starting August 12, 2018, an abnormal amount of dead or stranded seals started washing up on the shores of northern New England. Researchers were puzzled at first and did not understand what was causing such an influx in deaths. Over 400 seals' bodies found their ways on New England's beaches – primarily Maine's – over a span of three weeks, and after initial testing, researchers discovered many of them were infected with either avian influenza or phocine distemper virus. Still, scientists are not ruling other potential causes out.
"We have many more samples to process and analyze, so it is still too soon to determine if either or both of those viruses are the primary cause of the mortality event," said Jennifer Goebel, a spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In June 2017, thousands of dead fish mysteriously showed up on a Texas beach. The area is close to a river that feeds into the Gulf of Mexico. According to USA Today, the fish were menhadens, and died from unknown causes.
Some suspect it was the result of an algae bloom.
At least 2,000 bats died after literally frying to death in a brutal heat wave. The bats - called flying foxes - were discovered in New South Wales, Australia. Temperatures hit 113 degress Fahrenheit in the region.
Members of the Wildlife Aid said it was the worst stress-related deaths they had seen in more than 10 years.
At least 300 whales died and at least 100 more were left stranded after a pod of whales beached themselves off the coast of New Zealand. Volunteers helped to push some of the whales back out to sea, but said anywhere from 300 to 400 whales died.
Scientists are unsure why the whales beached themselves, but were able to save at least 50 of them - including the pod's matriarch.