Mass animal deaths scrutinized as Google map cites numerous incidents
The deaths of 5,000 blackbirds in Arkansas is one of several recent instances of mass animal deaths across the world.
January 7th, 2011
01:06 PM ET

Mass animal deaths scrutinized as Google map cites numerous incidents

Five thousand blackbirds in Arkansas. One hundred pelicans near Jacksonville, North Carolina. Three hundred doves in Italy. Seventy bats in Tucson, Arizona. Thousands of fish in Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brazil and the United States.

Google is now hosting a map of incidents of mass animal deaths around the world. Google Maps' distinctive blue balloons indicate where the deaths took place. Click on a balloon, and the map provides you with a link to a news report on the incident.

As of Friday afternoon, there were about 30 cases pinpointed on the search engine's mapping site, most of them in the U.S. and Europe.

Some might say it's getting spooky - and not just by conspiracy theorist standards - but experts tell CNN Radio that theories of UFOs and secret government weapons are, naturally, far-fetched.

In the case of the Arkansas blackbirds, wildlife buffs have said that a loud noise or other event may have precipitated the blunt-force trauma that killed the birds. Of all the notions about their deaths, Susie Kesielke, curator of birds at the Los Angeles Zoo, believes the theory that fireworks startled the birds is the most plausible.

“Blackbirds roost communally in the wintertime, and they sleep more soundly than most animals,” Kesielke said, adding that the birds were shocked awake and extremely disoriented.

Jonathan Sleeman, director of the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, said his office has investigated 16 mass bird deaths in the past 20 years.

“This is a bit unusual but not unique,” he explained. “Most of the cases involved pesticides or poison ingested by the birds, but trauma has also been found to be the cause of mass bird deaths."

Good to know experts aren't buying that Armageddon is upon us. Offering even more comfort is the blog Universe Today, which suggests that the deaths aren't so much strange as they are "a symptom of the digital age where news travels faster than you can say, 'The End is Nigh.' "

It cites a Time magazine article that details several strange mass animal deaths and wonders "if the internet age allows us to connect the dots where there are none to be connected."

As for connecting dots, the blog suggests that the map on Google could be laid on top of a "current global oil exploration map to test the hypothesis that the deaths could have been caused by ground-penetrating tomography."

In any case, it seems level heads are prevailing for now - at least until scads of humans succumb to spontaneous combustion.

“Until the sky turns red and there’s a plague of locusts, this event is not that unusual,” Sleeman said of the blackbirds.

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Filed under: Animals • Arkansas • Google • Science • Technology
soundoff (748 Responses)
  1. tapu

    I'm onto something! I think it's mass hysteria. A couple birds get a little wonky, others see it, they start to think they're getting wonky, too, and then they all go haywire. The reason it's happening with different animals, different places in the world, is that news is carrying faster in the animal world, too. I can't believe I'm the only person who has this all figured out. I am a genius.

    January 7, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Omen

    Gosh, most of them are in the U.S. and in the South. Shocking.

    January 7, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • jps

      What the heck is that supposed to mean.

      January 7, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anthony

      Perhaps its because Americans are the ones most likely to come up with conspiracy theories and because we have better technology and reporting. There could be mass animal deaths in remote parts of Africa every day and we would never know about it.

      January 7, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Largo Barbara

    This whitewash smells of 2 million dead fish!

    January 7, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Julia

    Get RAJ up there? What is that? And "SAS WINGS OF DESTINY" get out of the dark closet or at least turn on the light in the closet, okay? Things will look a little better.

    January 7, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Julia

    Excuse me, SAD WINGS OF DESTINY.

    January 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Julia

    No but really I have to agree with HAARP. It could happen.

    January 7, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Emily

    If fireworks are responsible for the deaths of the blackbirds, why hasn't this happened before? There are fireworks every New Year's Eve. And why only in Arkansas? And fireworks certainly don't explain all the other animal deaths around the world.

    January 7, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Doug

    There is something going on. There has always been mass animal deaths at different times, but I have never seen this many in such a short time period. If you look at the Google map, you will see the effects of a bird flu; 50 birds dead. That is a hell of a difference then the hundreds and thousands that seem to be dying in different places around the Earth, not including the other animals. Look at the experts own testimony, 16 mass bird cases in 20 years, that is less then one per year. Yet in the mass two weeks, we are nearing that amount. I think their own explanations contradict what they are saying.

    I don't believe in any of these wild theories, from man made to UFO's, etc. But I would definitely look an underlying environment cause that would effect different species in all spheres where there is life.

    January 7, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. the rumsfeld gucci concept

    its all about broadcaster ratings.. You dont see the n.r.a. Gun clubs disbanding do you?...blast bambi and the people who have no such n.r.a.. A civilized people.

    January 7, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. rtw24

    US Government at its best again, what a bunch of liars.

    January 7, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Lisa

    I wouldn't be surprised to find out that it is environmental. The bats that were found dead should have migrated two months prior to them being found, but it was too warm and they never migrated. I know our weather has been warmer this year than normal and I was hearing geese much later into the year than normal. They didn't migrate like normal either. We had no autumn weather to speak of and went from summer almost directly into winter. Animals are confused and I don't blame them. And if the birds are staying behind later and then trying to migrate through ice...who knows.

    January 7, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ciafra

    What about the oil spill. I know these are worldwide events but still. Crabs, fish, birds...could make sense.

    January 7, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • detsea

      im pretty sure that the cause of death for the crabs, fish and birds during any oil spill is,.. well, the oil... no mystery there.

      January 7, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. seek and ye shall find

    the truth is out there.

    January 7, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. detsea

    wasnt there a mass porpoise death several years ago off of the coast of africa? i recall seeing pictures of locals butchering the ones that washed ashore. did you miss that one google?

    January 7, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anthony

      Google didn't make the map, some random person did. Anyone can make google maps for anything.

      January 7, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ciafra

    i meant to say that what if this some kind of chain reaction from the oil spill.

    January 7, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
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