Thousands of turtle doves rained down on car roofs in northeastern Italy.
Two million dead fish washed ashore in the Chesapeake, 100,000 fish died in rivers in the Ozarks, 450 red-winged blackbirds, brown-headed cowbirds, grackles and starlings littered a highway in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, three thousand blackbirds fell on roads and roofs in the small town of Beebe, Arkansas, 70 Mexican free-tailed bats croaked on a path in Tucson, Arizona, dozens of jackdaws were found dead in the streets of Falkoping, in southern Sweden, scores of dead fish turned up in a small Haitian lake near the Dominican border, thousands of devil crabs washed ashore along the Kent coast in southeastern England, hundreds of snapper were found dead in New Zealand, one hundred tons of sardines, croaker and catfish washed up dead along the coast of Brazil, hundreds of fish turned up dead near Lapu-Lapu City in the Philippines, more than 150 tonnes of red tilapia died in the province of Dong Thap in southern Vietnam and scores of American coots were found dead on a Texas bridge. All this in the past two weeks, which leaves one wondering, what on earth is happening?
The recent mass animal die offs have been blamed on warm weather, cold weather, low oxygen levels, high pollution levels, fireworks, lightning and the rapid movement of the magnetic north pole towards Russia. The event has been termed The Aflockolypse and some have connected it with the coming end of the Mayan calendar in 2012, which certain individuals predict will mark the end of the world. Others, such as this conspiracy theorist commenter on the conservative website Prisonplanet.com, suggest more political underpinnings: “It looks to me as if the cases of bird and fish death only occurred in regions with allegiance to western military power. No deaths in the vast regions of Russia and China…the whole Asian region is also free of animal deaths, with one single exception, Cambodia. It’s the western world powers that are affected. Conclusion? Looks like a military experiment.”
There are times in history when life has been wiped out in vast numbers, referred to as mass extinctions or Extinction Level Events (ELEs). There is generally thought to have been five major ELE’s throughout history. The Ordovician-Silurian extinction refers to a pair of events that occurred between 440 and 450 million years ago and was caused by a massive glaciation that locked up much of the world’s water as ice and caused sea levels to drop dramatically, decimating marine organisms. The Late Devonian extinction was a series of extinctions that spanned 20 million years and wiped out 70 percent of all species. The largest extinction in the history of the planet occurred 250 million years ago with the Permian-Triassic extinction, known simply as the Great Dying. About 96 percent of all marine species and 70 percent of all land species were eliminated, including insects. The recovery of vertebrates took 30 million years. Many scientists believe an asteroid or comet triggered the die off but no target crater has been found. Another theory is that an extensive arc of seeping volcanoes in Siberia triggered powerful climate shifts that brought about the die offs.
The Triassic-Jurassic event, 205 million years ago, wiped out about one-quarter of marine species and most large amphibians, leaving the dinosaurs with little competition and aiding their rise. Massive floods of lava erupting from within the central Atlantic may have caused this event. The Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction, known simply as the K-T event, occurred 65.5 million years ago and wiped out 75 percent of all species on the planet, including the dinosaurs. The event is thought to have been caused by an asteroid which crashed into the northern tip of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Global warming fueled by volcanic eruptions at the Deccan Flats in India may also have played a part.
Many scientists believe the earth’s sixth great extinction is underway. “The blame for this one, perhaps the fastest in earth’s history, falls firmly on the shoulders of humans,” notes a National Geographic article. Maybe the conspiracy theorists aren’t so far off.