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Hundreds of Dead Penguins Wash Onto Uruguay Beaches June 24, 2011
Dead penguins in Uruguay
Dead Magellan penguins discovered on the shore at La Paloma, about 125 miles east of Montevideo.
More than 600 dead Magellan penguins have washed up on Uruguayan beaches in recent weeks, along with an unusually high number of turtle, dolphin and albatross carcasses.

Some have blamed chemical contamination for the deaths.

But the director of Uruguay’s National Aquatic Resources Administration said that since most of the dead penguins were juveniles, he believes the fatalities were due to natural causes.

Daniel Gilardoni told reporters that “if it had been intoxication, the dead penguins should have been of all ages and sex, but that is not the case.”

Gilardoni also said that almost a million penguins migrate along the country’s Atlantic coast each year, including more than 500,000 juveniles.

Other experts say it is common for dead penguins to appear in the area at this time of year, but the extent of the die-off this season appears to be unusual.

Photos: Dirección Nacional de Recursos Acuáticos