Friday, July 23, 2010

Hundreds of dead penguins dot Brazil's beaches;_ylt=AqFKN3sQtXto9W8UE.lmx4Ks0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTFlaWVla2d2BHBvcwMxMTgEc2VjA2FjY29yZGlvbl9zY2llbmNlBHNsawNodW5kcmVkc29mZGU-

By STAN LEHMAN, Associated Press Writer Stan Lehman, Associated Press Writer – Thu Jul 22, 3:08 am ET

SAO PAULO – Hundreds of penguins that apparently starved to death are washing up on the beaches of Brazil, worrying scientists who are still investigating what's causing them to die.

About 500 of the black-and-white birds have been found just in the last 10 days on Peruibe, Praia Grande and Itanhaem beaches in Sao Paulo state, said Thiago do Nascimento, a biologist at the Peruibe Aquarium.

Most were Magellan penguins migrating north from Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands in search of food in warmer waters.

Many are not finding it: Autopsies done on several birds revealed their stomachs were entirely empty — indicating they likely starved to death, Nascimento said.

Scientists are investigating whether strong currents and colder-than-normal waters have hurt populations of the species that make up the penguins' diet, or whether human activity may be playing a role.

"Overfishing may have made the fish and squid scarcer," Nascimento said.

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