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Posted at 11:57 AM ET, 03/ 9/2011

Dead fish in California, sick seals in New Jersey, dolphins die in the Gulf: Prepare for the afisholypse?

By Melissa Bell
fish dead
People look at hundreds of thousands of dead anchovies at a marina in Redondo Beach, south of Los Angeles on Tuesday. (Gabriel Bouys/AFP)

When birds started falling out of the sky and thousands of fish turned up on the shore of the Chesapeake, the country quaked with fear at the mass deaths. Until scientists reassured us: It happens all the time in nature. Birds die, fish go belly up. It just isn't reported all the time, all at once.

Well, prepare for a new round of mass deaths by mysterious means. Eighty-plus bottlenose dolphins found dead along the U.S. Gulf Coast since January may have been killed from causes linked to last year's oil spill or to a winter cold snap. Though researchers said we might never know the true cause.

In Redondo Beach, Calif., hundreds of thousands of anchovies clogged the marina. Scientists said it could have been either a violent storm that chased the fish into seeking a safe harbor, or the fault of red algae that chokes oxygen supplies along the Pacific coast every spring.

In New Jersey, 26 seals have been stranded along the beach, malnourished and parasitic.

As with the first round of mass animal deaths, these events are not unprecedented. The Post's Brian Vastag reports that in 2007, 68 dead dolphins washed ashore in Texas. And since 1991, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration formed a marine mammal quick-response team, there have been 50 large-scale death events involving seals, whales, manatees and dolphins in U.S. waters.

(Via the Atlantic Wire)

By Melissa Bell  | March 9, 2011; 11:57 AM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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