SANTIAGO – Several hundred dead penguins have washed up on a beach in southern Chile in the past few days, but experts have not yet determined what killed the birds, the press reported.
The remains of more than 800 penguins began washing up last Thursday on the five-kilometer (3.1 -mile) stretch of beach in the Las Niñas and Los Piojos sections of Queule, a town in La Araucania province, located some 790 kilometers (nearly 500 miles) from Santiago.
The dead penguins were of the Magellanic (Spheniscus magellanicus) and Humboldt (Spheniscus humboldti) species, which live in extreme southern South America and migrate to northern Chile and beyond during the Southern Hemisphere winter.
Researchers from Universidad Austral in Valdivia are trying to determine what killed the birds.
Navy Lt. Rodrigo Zambrano, who is assigned to the maritime authority in Valdivia, told reporters that the penguins did not appear to have been exposed to any toxic substances.
Penguins sometimes get caught in fishing nets, but never in such large numbers, Zambrano said, adding that 803 carcasses had been found. EFE