Is it an animal apocalypse?

  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
THE recent spate of mass animal deaths around the world is sparking conspiracy theories and doomsday predictions on the web.

From the US to New Zealand, from Britain to Brazil, bizarre cases of birds, fish and crabs turning up dead en masse have been reported in the past two weeks and no one seems to know why.

Not that it’s stopping residents of the internet from having a red hot go.

One example is from conspiracy theorists Joseph Watson and Alex Jones of who blame it on "the government". According to the site authorities have “routinely engaged in secret testing of biological and electromagnetic weapons that have detrimentally impacted both humans and animals many times in the past”.

Others are blaming it on the New Madrid fault line in the southern US, although how this affects birds flying in the sky, we’re not too sure.

And let’s not even get started on the 2012 end of the world predictions. have sifted through the evidence and present some saner possible explanations so you can decide for yourself if this is the end of days, or just a freaky and gruesome coincidence.

Where: a 30km stretch of the Arkansas River near Ozark, about 200km northwest of Little Rock in the US.

What: 100,000 drum fish washed up along a 32km stretch between the Ozark dam and a bridge in Franklin County. Local authorities were alerted to the deaths last week and have since collected samples from the affected area.

How: Keith Stephens from the US Game and Fish Commission said fish kills happen every year, but the size of the latest one was unusual. He suggested some sort of disease was to blame.

"The fish kill only affected one species of fish," he told CNN.

"If it was from a pollutant, it would have affected all of the fish, not just drum fish."

Where: Beebe, a community of 5000, northeast of Little Rock.

What: New Year's revellers in a small town noticed something other than fireworks falling from the sky as up to 5000 red-winged blackbirds rained out of the darkness onto rooftops and footpaths and into fields.

One struck a woman walking her dog. Another hit a police cruiser.

Birds were "littering the streets, the yards, the driveways, everywhere," said Robby King, a county wildlife officer.

"It was hard to drive down the street in some places without running over them."

How: "They died from massive trauma," said Game and Fish Commission spokesman Keith Stephens, citing a report from the state poultry lab where the birds were examined.
Some speculated that a bout of bad weather was to blame. Others said one confused bird could have led the group in a fatal plunge. A few spooked schoolkids even guessed that the birds had committed mass suicide.

Beebe police captain Eddie Cullum said "For all the doomsdayers, that was definitely the end of the world."

Where: The second unexplained US mass bird death happened in Louisiana where carcasses littered a stretch of highway near Baton Rouge.

What: 500 birds were discovered dead in Pointe Coupee Parish.

How: Olivia Watkins of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said: ”We sent samples to a lab in Missouri and are waiting to get some results.”

The birds - a mixed flock of red-winged blackbirds, brown-headed cowbirds, grackles and starlings - may have hit a power line or vehicles in the dark, Louisiana's state wildlife veterinarian Jim LaCour said. Two dozen of them had head, neck, beak or back injuries.

Dan Cristol, a biology professor and co-founder of the Institute for Integrative Bird Behavior Studies at the College of William & Mary, said the Louisiana birds may have been ill or startled from their roost.

“They don't hit a power line for no reason,” he said.

Where: A snow-covered street in southern Sweden’s Falkoping,

What: About 100 jackdaw birds were found lying dead on the road, Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported.

How: Local veterinarian Robert ter Horst speculated that the birds had fallen from the sky after being frightened by fireworks set off late on Tuesday.

However, the cause of the jackdaws' deaths was disputed after a truck driver claimed he was responsible.

Christer Olofosson, a rescue services worker, said the truck driver claimed he saw about 70 live birds on the road on Tuesday, saying he ran over the lot of them and did not think it was a “big deal”. He later realised it had attracted attention, not only in the Swedish media, but also abroad.

Police told the newspaper the majority of the jackdaws involved were not "physically damaged," which would contradict the truck driver's account of events. Mystery.

Where: Kentucky, US

What: Kentucky wildlife officials say several hundred birds were found dead in the western part of the state. The grackles, red wing blackbirds, robins and starlings were found last week.

How: No reason has been discovered or given yet.

Where: Little Bay and Waikawau Bay, Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

What: A "carpet" of hundreds of dead, mostly eyeless, snapper washed up on several Coromandel Peninsula beaches on Tuesday, leaving people mystified.

Auckland resident James Hughes spotted the snapper floating close to shore after children rushed up to him and his friends holding some of the dead fish, the New Zealand Herald reported.

"We spoke to boaties coming in and they said there was a carpet of them floating in the water."

How: A Department of Conservation official told Mr Hughes fish in the Coromandel area were starving because of weather conditions.

"That's just completely untrue. This was something deliberate and it's just wrong," Mr Hughes said

Where: Thanet, Kent, England

What: 40,000 dead velvet swimming crabs, or “devil crabs” washed up on Thanet beaches. Tony Childs, Thanet Coast Project Manager, told the Daily Mail: “We had a crash in numbers last year and we hadn't expected such a large population.

“As happens with the circle of life in nature, we expect the crabs to be naturally dispersed from our shores very quickly by our local seagulls.”

How: The cold weather in Britain has been blamed for the deaths. "We are hopeful the crab population will soon recover," said Mr Childs.
The Daily Mail reported that the mass crab deaths made up 95 per cent of marine life affected by the cold snap.

Where: Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, US

What: The Baltimore Sun reported an estimated two million spot fish died and washed up on the shore. The dead fish are mostly adult spot, with some juvenile croakers.

How: State officials are investigating but suspect it was because of the near-record cold. Agency spokeswoman Dawn Stoltzfus said spot are susceptible to colder water, she said, and normally leave the upper bay by now. They were perhaps late getting out.

Where: Coast of Paranaguá, Brazil

What: At least 100 tonnes of sardine, croaker and catfish have washed up on beaches over the past week, Parana Online reported.

The President of the Federation of Fishermen's Colony of Parana, Edmir Manoel Ferreira, said at least 2800 fishermen depend on the daily seafood.

"We are experiencing a very sad situation on the coast," he said.

How: Authorities took samples to verify the reason for the deaths.

Biologists have explained the deaths could be because of a possible increase in the concentration of algae that produce toxins. This increase may lead to death in some species, such as sardines.

Water samples taken from the bay showed elevated levels of two species of toxic algae.

Where: Port Orange, Florida US

What: Hundreds of dead fish floated around the waterways near homes, WFTV reported, surrounded by swarms of pelicans and buzzards.

Kayakers on the creek told WFTV they'd seen fish around every bend and it appeared to be one of the most extensive kills they had seen.

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  Valvegear Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Richmond Vic
A veritable feast for the conspiracy theorists. They'll come out of the woodwork in all directions, and there'll be nutters and nongs all over the place.
  heisdeadjim Chief Commissioner

Conspiracy theorists are good for one thing.

Imagine, if you will, you have a dog. Someone presses the doorbell. BARKBARKBARKBARKBARK!!!!!!!!

Now, the event is not the dog barking, the event is the happenstance that caused the doorbell to ring in the first place.

So, equate the conpiracy theorists with the dog's bark. A lot of noise and effort for very little gain.

But it's still useful to find out who is at the door. Use the conspiracy theorists as our own doorbell. Something's up, to be sure. Possibly very tedious in nature but it still serves our interests to find out. Because, it could actually be important and we missed the doorbell's ding dong in the first place, so we know by the barking to check the door anyway.
  Valvegear Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Richmond Vic
Er - yes.
  heisdeadjim Chief Commissioner

My mission has been a success....
  2001 The Snow Lord

Location: The road jump at Charlotte Pass. Paxman Valenta on two planks.
No mystery at all.

Those are the fish that John West rejected.
  Maikha Moderator Not a gunzel

If the world is going to end in 2012, could someone PLEASE confirm it so that I can take out a bank loan?
  timothya Junior Train Controller

Yes, the world is going to end in 2011, because the Earth will be inundated by an intergalactic fish kill.

Do the maths - 140 billion stars X average 1 planet per star X average 2,000 fish species X average 487 million cubic kilometres of biosphere per planet. Then just sit back and wait for intergalactic gravity to do its work.

You are all going to be dead by September, people - yourself, your spouse, your donkey and your woodpile will be smitten hip and thigh by intergalactic fish. And it will be all down to the sardines. Sardines are evil. Death to the sardines!

Or maybe the whitebait.
  Oldfart Chief Commissioner

Location: Right base for BK 11R
I think they're all red herrings.
  trainfreak Site Admin

It gives a new meaning to "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!"  Wink
  Camster Chief Commissioner

Location: Geelong
If the world is going to end in 2012, could someone PLEASE confirm it so that I can take out a bank loan?

Why? Can't you just live one more year without a house?

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