More than 500 dead penguins washed up on Brazilian beaches between the towns of Cidreiras and Tramandai during the past week. Veterinarians and marine biologists are investigating the 512 dead penguins which floated ashore in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul in an attempt to determine the cause of death. Marine biologists believe the penguins were migrating to the south from Argentina in search of a food source and warmer waters, according to interview excerpts republished by The New York Daily News.
After reviewing the more than 500 dead Magellanic penguins, marine biologists were able to state the creatures appear to be unhurt, free from any oil stains and well-fed. A full report on the cause of death of the penguins is expected within the next 30 days, the Pittsburgh Tribune reports.
The Mirror reports that “dozens of young penguins” had to be rescued from Rio de Janeiro beaches last week after straying well beyond their normal migration range. A Brazilian environmental agency is making arrangements to fly the young Magellanic penguins back to their traditional habitat in the waters off the southern region of the county.
Magellanic penguins are named for their breeding region in Chile and Southern Argentina where they have a large mating colony. Typically the Magellanic penguins migrate to warmer waters between March and September. The penguins dine on a series of marine crustaceans and small fish. The primary predator of the penguins is the sea lion. The Magellanic penguin is considered a threatened species due to the impact humans have had on its habitat. Similar incidents of dead penguins near Brazil in the past have been blamed upon colder temperatures and shifting ocean currents.