WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES – A dead penguin washed up on a popular beach died after eating a face mask that it seemingly mistook for food.
The Magellanic penguin was found dead on Juquei beach in south-eastern Brazil's Sao Paulo state on September 9.
Its body was retrieved by the Instituto Argonauta, a coastal and marine conservation NGO, based in the nearby municipality of Ubatuba.
According to the team at the institute, the penguin's lifeless body was very thin and covered with sand when it was sent for a post-mortem, which found an N95 face mask in its stomach.
They believe it was probably discarded by beachgoers as the beach had been busy because of the bank holiday on September 7, with lots of visitors from the surrounding area.
"The consequences of the large number of people who frequented the beaches of Sao Paulo's north coast on the 7th September bank holiday have not ended and, this time, may have cost the life of a Magellan penguin, whose cause of death is linked to a mask that was found inside its stomach,” the institute wrote on its Facebook page.
Researchers at the institute found 113 face masks discarded on the beaches on Sao Paulo's north coast between April 16 and September 13.
Every year, the near-threatened species migrates from Argentine Patagonia in search of food. The peak occurred during the long weekend prior to the penguin's death, when 10 masks were retrieved on September 8 alone.
The season when the Magellanic penguins are in the area began in June this year.
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