The 2010â"2011 midwinter animal mass death events (sometimes referred to as Aflockalypse) have gained considerable publicity worldwide. Media attention was particularly high for this period. This is despite the fact that the mass deaths of fish and of birds are quite common. Livestock have also been known to suffer such incidents.
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In the final week of December, 83,000 dead and dying drum fish washed up along a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River, about 100 miles west of Beebe, Arkansas. The cause was speculated to be disease while full test results were expected after one month.
Shortly before midnight on New Year's Eve between 3,000 and 5,000 red-winged blackbirds fell from the sky in Beebe. Most were dead on the ground but some were living but dazed. Laboratory tests have been performed and the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission, the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin as well as the University of Georgia's wildlife disease study group have procured specimens of the dead birds. In addition to the blackbirds a few grackles and starlings also fell from the sky in the same incident. A test report from the state poultry lab concluded that the birds had died from blunt trauma. An unlicensed fireworks discharge was the likely cause.
The Beebe bird deaths were repeated again on New Year's Eve of the following year, 2011, with the reported number of dead birds being 5,000.
Between December 28, 2010 and January 3, 2011, 100 tons of dead fish washed ashore on the Brazilian coast.
On January 3, more than five hundred starlings, red-winged blackbirds and sparrows fell dead in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, USA. Also on the same day, an estimated two million dead fish were found floating in the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, USA.
On January 5, "hundreds" of dead turtle doves were found at Faenza, Italy. According to Italian news agencies, a huge number of the birds were found to have blue stains on their beaks that could be caused by paint or hypoxia.
Over the weekend of January 8â"9, "over a hundred" dead birds were found clustered together on a California Highway, while "thousands of dead gizzard shad" (a species of fish) turned up in the harbors of Chicago.
On January 14, approximately two hundred cows were found dead in a field in Stockton, Wisconsin. The owner of the cattle has told deputies that he suspected the animals died of infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), or bovine virus diarrhea (BVD). The authorities in Wisconsin sent samples from the carcasses to labs in Madison, to determine cause of death.
On March 7, millions of small fish, including anchovies, sardines, and mackerel were found dead in the area of King Harbor at Redondo Beach, California, U.S.A. An investigation by the authorities within the area concluded that the sardines had become trapped within the harbor, depleted the ambient oxygen, which resulted in the deaths. The authorities stated that the event was "unusual, but not unexplainable."
According to most scientists, massive die offs of animals are not unusual in nature and happen for a variety of reasons including bad weather, disease outbreaks and poisonings, with pollution and climate change adding to the stresses on wildlife. The U.S. Geological Service's website listed about 90 mass deaths of birds and other wildlife from June through December 12. For instance, Louisiana's State Wildlife Veterinarian Jim LaCour has stated that there have been 16 similar mass blackbird deaths in the past 30 years. According to Italy's WWF president Giorgio Tramonti, mass dove deaths like the ones that occurred in Italy have never happened before 2010. The event in Arkansas was attributed primarily to an unexpected temperature change causing turbulence, visible on NEXRAD Doppler weather radar images, above their roosting areas which disoriented them. In addition other news sources have reported more masses of dead animals in the year 2012.
Some Christians assert that this particular cluster of animal mass deaths is a sign of the Apocalypse. They reference a passage in the Book of Hosea in the Hebrew Bible which reads: "By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood," and the prophecy continues "Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away."
The term aflockalypse was adopted by some media commentators in reference to the 2010â"2011 bird deaths. Aflockalypse is a portmanteau of the words "flock" and "apocalypse".
- Bird kill
- Fish kill
- Map of recent mass animal deaths (2)