Someone didn’t tell these animals not to drink the Kool-Aid. Within the past year, over 800 known mass deaths have been reported around the world. That’s a lot of dead animals. Some people consider this to be a prophecy of the end of times. Others think it’s due to humans or global warming.Whatever the reason is, some of these animals are now extinct or headed in that direction.
Here are some of the strangest mass animal death around the world.
1. Kazakhstan’s Saiga Antelope
In May 2015, over 134,000 Saiga Antelope suddenly died in two weeks.
This later grew to 200,000 dead antelope. This was nearly a third of the global population of Saiga Antelope. The cause was later determined to be the bacterium Pasteurella multocida, which caused hemorrhagic septicemia in calving mothers and their newborns.
2. Southern Blackbirds
On New Year’s Eve 2011, thousands of red-winged blackbirds fell dead from the sky.
The fireworks startled them from their nighttime roosts, and as poor night fliers they died from colliding with objects at high speed.
3. Mass Fish Death
Thousands of floating dead fish in Maninjau Lake 2009.
The farmed fish were killed by a weather change that caused an upwelling of sulfur, waste, and fish food detritus from the bottom of the lake.
Since 2006, more than 7 million hibernating bats have died of white-nose syndrome.
The fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans eats away at bats’ skin, especially their wings, depleting bats’ energy as they try to regenerate their tissues. Hibernating bats may wake up to find their immune systems destroying the fungus and their own bodies at the same time. The fungus was transferred via cave-visitors from Europe who brought it to America. The bat die-off will cost the US some $4-50 billion in pest-control every year.
5. Chilean Birds & Sardines
In 2009, millions of sardines, flamingos, penguins, and pelicans died within a span of only two months.
Though pollution, overfishing, and disease were all blamed, an unusually warm summer – more frequent recently as a result of climate change – was the most likely culprit.
6. Australian Marine Mammals
In 2008, over 150 Pilot Whales and Bottleneck Dolphins, 150 Long-Finned Pilot Whales, and 45 Sperm Whales beached themselves on shore.
Though disorientation due to sonar or geography have been blamed, no definitive cause of cetacean stranding has been agreed upon.
7. Uganda’s Hippopotamuses
In 2004, 300 hippopotamuses died in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park from anthrax.
The anthrax spores are naturally occurring and dormant in the soil but occasionally are exposed by disturbance and drought, where grazers come into contact with them. The scale of the die-off may have been aided by cannibalism among the hippos.
8. West Coast Purple Sailor Jellyfish
In 2015, billions of jellyfish washed up all over the West Coast of the United States.
The event is regular – as winds shift, the jellyfish, which sail on the open ocean wherever the wind takes them, are pushed towards shore.
9. Starfish All Over West Coast
Millions of sea stars wash up onto the West Coast in 2014.
Sea star wasting disease has been decimating sea star populations and is still little understood. It has been linked to warmer waters, however. Symptoms range from lesions to bodily disintegration and are fatal.
10. German Toads Exploding
In 2005, thousands of toads were bloating up before bursting.
Necropsies found the toads to all have incisions in their backs and missing livers. Franz Mutschmann found that the crows had figured out where the nutritious liver was located and how to extract it without ingesting any of the toxic skin of the toads. The toads puffed up as a defense mechanism, but without the liver to hold the other organs in, the lungs expanded indefinitely until the toads exploded.