Wildlife

More Than 300 Whales Die On Southern Chile Coast

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An aerial scientific survey in southern Chile’s Patagonia found 337 dead whales in a remote fjord.

The discovery was made in June, but Chilean press broke the story before the scientists could present the conclusions of their site study.

The researchers say they don’t know exactly what caused one of the largest die-offs on record, but red tide, or algal blooms have caused fatalities in the past.

Those on the aircraft flying over the carcasses say they didn’t see any wounds, suggesting the marine mammals may have died from a virus or an algal bloom known as “red tide.”

Because of the amount of decay in the whale carcasses at the time they were discovered, it was impossible to determine what species they were.

But based on their size and location, it’s believed they were sei whales. The species numbers about 80,000 worldwide.

The coast of southern Chile became a graveyard for 337 whales that were found beached in what scientists say is one of the greatest whale strandings on record.

Habitat loss threat to world’s migratory birds

Habitat destruction along routes taken by the world’s migratory birds poses an increasing peril to these long-distance fliers, with a vast majority crossing terrain that nations are inadequately protecting, according to scientists.

The researchers said on Thursday they tracked the migratory routes, stopover locations, breeding grounds and wintering locations of 1,451 migratory species and assessed about 450,000 protected areas like national parks and other reserves.

They found 1,324 species, about 91 percent, journeyed through locales that were not safeguarded from threats like development.

“This is important because migratory species cover vast distances and rely on an intact series of habitats in which they can rest and feed on their long journeys,” said conservation scientist Richard Fuller of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) and the University of Queensland.

If even a single link in this chain of sites is lost for a species, it could lead to major declines or even its extinction. The birds traverse many different countries where conservation efforts vary.

The problem was most acute in North Africa, Central Asia and along the coasts of East Asia. Countries in these regions maintain relatively few protected areas, and existing ones do not overlap sufficiently with the routes of migratory birds.

For small birds, the opportunity to feed and build up energy reserves for the next leg of their journeys is essential for survival. Loss of these critical sites means they no longer have the energy needed to make the journeys, and they simply perish along the way.

The study called for creating new protected areas in key locations, improving management of existing protected areas and coordinating conservation actions across international borders.

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