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1000 dead penguins, fishing nets suspected


Cetacea
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CHILE PENGUIN MYSTERY: 1,300 DEAD IN REGION

Local Cleanup Crew Discovers Lone Survivor

Municipal workers from the tiny town of Toltén on Monday continued to collect the carcasses of dead penguins, more than 1,000 of which have washed ashore in southern Chile’s Region XI in recent days.

The cause of the penguin deaths is still unknown, although researchers from both the Universidad Católica in Temuco (Region XI) and Universidad Austral in Valdivia (Region XIV) are currently looking into the matter.

Bernardo Prado, the regional director of the National Fishing Service (SERNAPESCA), told the Patagonia Times he expects the universities to come up with answers by the end of the week.

Prado does not think the dead Humbolt and Magellanic penguins were victims of a toxic spill of some kind. “First off, they don’t show any external signs of any pollutants. Second, there aren’t any signs of pollutants along the shoreline. So we can rule that out,” he said.

One possibility is that the penguins were caught in fishing boat nets – something known to occur in the area with some frequency.

Toltén City Councilor Hernán Machuca, who also presides over the local artisan fishers union, explained that fishing boats use different techniques depending on the type of fish their going after. Late last week local fishers were hunting Southern Rays Bream (known in Chile as Reneita) and Sea Bass (Corvina), for which they use shallow nets attached to buoys. “Incidentally,” he said, that put the nets directly at odds with penguins, which also stay close to the surface. “It’s what happens when two species go after the same prey.”

“It’s not the fishermen’s fault,” said Machuca. “The fishers set their nets at night, between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. Obviously, by the morning, the penguins are going to be drowned, they’re going to be dead.”

Given the high casualty figures, however, Bernardo Prado isn’t convinced fishing nets alone can explain the deaths. As of Sunday night, some 1,300 dead penguins had been counted – far more than in previous cases.

“We thought this could be related to a fishing technique used by local fishers. We’re used to finding sometimes as many as 80 penguins that have been killed that way. But here (the numbers) just shot up,” the SERNAPESCA official said.

Prado thinks the deaths may have instead been caused by a combination of factors. The penguins, he explained, may have been entangled in fishing boat nets after traveling from especially far out at sea – making them particularly vulnerable. Unusually hungry and tired, he theorized, the birds were unable to free themselves from the nets and thus drowned.

A Single Survivor

Cleanup crews from tiny Toltén, near the border of Regions IX and XIV, did have one bright moment in their otherwise morbid task over the weekend. On Sunday the workers found one live penguin on Nigue Sur beach, the daily Austral de Temuco reported.

The lone survivor was temporarily given to SERNAPESCA and later released back into the wild.

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This is so sad all those poor animals ....

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So tragic!!!!!

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This is terribly sad, what a tragedy!

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Yes truly sad and heart-breaking......

..... maybe I have a slight morbid sense of humour, but "1000 Dead Penguins"

would be a wicked awesome band name.....

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:cry:
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Posted (IP: Staff) ·
:o Only one penguin survived out of 1,300........what a terrible waste, that's so sad.
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Nature can be cruel and unneccessary! Even if it is the nature of man that is behind it!

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Nature can be cruel and unneccessary! Even if it is the nature of man that is behind it!

so true.....terribly sad :cry:

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