Washington, Jan 3: Some 100,000 dead fish floated in a river in Arkansas in the US, while reports of 5,000 blackbirds mysteriously falling dead from the sky before New Year eve has left officials baffled.
Dead Drum fish lined the banks of a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River near Ozark, said Keith Stephens of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
A tugboat operator discovered the dead lot, and fisheries officials picked up some of them to conduct tests, CNN reported.
Stephens said fish deaths occur every year, but the size of the latest one was unusual, and suggested some disease was to blame.
“The fish kill only affected one species of fish. If it was from a pollutant, it would have affected all of the fish, not just drum fish,” he said.
In the town of Beebe, game wardens are trying to find out why up to 5,000 blackbirds fell from the sky just before midnight New Year’s eve.
Biologists said the bird deaths were unrelated to the fish kill near Ozark.
The dead birds were red-winged blackbirds and starlings, and were found within a one-mile area of Beebe, the commission said.
“Shortly after I arrived, there were still birds falling from the sky,” said commission wildlife officer Robby King. He said he collected about 65 dead birds.
Karen Rowe, an ornithologist for the commission, however, said the incident was not unusual and it was often caused by a lightning strike or high-altitude hail.
“Something must have caused these birds to flush out of the trees at night, where they’re normally just roosting and staying in the treetops … and then something got them out of the air and caused their death and then they fell to earth,” Rowe said.
Officials also said fireworks shot by New Year revellers might have caused severe stress in the birds.
“Initial examinations of a few of the dead birds showed trauma. Whether or not this trauma was from the force of hitting the ground when they fell or from something that contacted them in the air, we don’t know,” Rowe said. –(IANS)