Hundreds of dead birds have been found on Mexico’s Pacific coast, prompting an investigation from authorities.
Few details about the event have been released, and the exact location – as well as the cause – remain a mystery.
Images taken on Saturday and supplied by the government indicate the situation is being taken seriously. Technicians from the National Service of Health are seen wearing protective clothing.
One photo shows the water is a putrid green colour near the shore. A second image shows a man holding a seabird, possibly a cormorant.
What could have killed the birds?
While it is too early to speculate as to the cause, bird deaths can be a sign of a disease outbreak. The H5N1 strain of avian influenza spreading across the globe has killed tens of millions of birds, harming both wild and domestic populations. It has also infected 17 mammal species and in February it claimed the life of an 11-year-old girl.
The outbreak has spread to all continents except for Antarctica and Australia, and experts have warned it could wipe out entire species if it infected our wild flocks. While Australia has successfully beaten other strains in domestic flocks, native birds likely have no immunity to the disease.
In Australia, recent disease outbreaks have been linked to botulism. The country suffered a spate of mass fatalities this year, including hundreds near Brisbane Airport, over 700 at one location in regional Victoria, and dozens in central Sydney.
Could poisoning also be the cause?
Suspected poisoning has also resulted in the mortality of large numbers of birds. In South Australia and Victoria, corellas are frequently found dead and dying within close proximity to farms.
Coastal birds also often succumb to oil leaks. In 2021, a 570,000 litre oil leak off the California coast killed and injured dozens of seabirds. A separate leak in Mauritius a year earlier, killed a pod of dolphins and threatened a 100-year-old coral.
Another famous mass bird death in Mexico garnered international attention in 2022. That incident was captured by a security camera and showed a large flock of yellow-headed blackbirds simultaneously smash into the ground.
The current situation in Mexico is unlikely to be related to flocking behaviour as the images indicate at least some of the species affected are coastal solitary birds.
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