You’ve probably seen lots of articles out about the dead penguins that have washed ashore in Brazil. I’ve read some and I was holding off on posting until I had some more information than what the news reports have said. Today I got a link from National Geographic’s site about this tragedy.
It seems that it’s not that unusual to see washed up penguins, dead or alive, on these beaches. These Magellanic penguins are currently swimming out at sea to forage for food and sometimes they can be swept away by the strong ocean currents bringing them to shore as far north as Rio de Janeiro. However, it seems that this year there are a lot more have appeared. Scientists are attributing this to a strong cold front coming from Argentina. These penguins that arrive in this manner are already in a weakened state and their bodies are not equipped to handle tropical diseases and polluted waters, though most probably died from sheer exhaustion.
If an injured or sick penguin is found, it is wise to alert the proper authorities such as zoos or other similar institutions that are able to care for them. Some misinformed people have tried to take them home and place them in icy water, not knowing they prefer more temperate climates.
As of July 30th, workers in Bahia were treating 474 sick penguins while more than 400 were found along beaches in Rio de Janeiro. Those who do survive are taken south of the country by the Brazilian government so they can catch the proper currents back home.