Experts: Bird, Fish Die-Offs No Mystery

Similar wildlife die-offs happen all the time, 'under the radar'

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 7, 2011 1:41 AM CST | Updated Jan 7, 2011 7:58 AM CST

(Newser) – Recent mass deaths of birds and fish around the world have been getting plenty of press, but these die-offs are nothing out of the ordinary, let alone a sign of the apocalypse, experts tell AP. Federal records show that mass wildlife die-offs happen about every other day, and experts believe that's probably a low estimation. "Depending on the species, these things don't even get reported," a wildlife disease expert says.

The difference now, famed Harvard biologist EO Wilson says, is that, thanks to technology, we're better able to share news of such events ... and try to connect the dots. "This instant and global communication is just a human instinct to read mystery and portents of dangers and wondrous things in events that are unusual," he says. "Not to worry, these are not portents that the world is about to come to an end." The irony, he notes, is that the recent die-offs are getting plenty of attention while the slower extinction of thousands of species because of human activity is being largely ignored. (To wit, one such story getting attention: Now turtle doves are dying in Italy.)

Dead pogies float in a fish kill in a pass near Bay Joe Wise on the Louisiana coast, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2010.
Dead pogies float in a fish kill in a pass near Bay Joe Wise on the Louisiana coast, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2010.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
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They generally fly under the radar. - Ornithologist John Wiens, chief scientist
at the California research institution
PRBO Conservation Science

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