The Green Cheapies

The End of the World As We Know It

Hallie Witwer
It’s taking the scientific world by storm and has a pretty large amount of people quite riled up. Recently, mass animal deaths have been occurring all over the globe. Mysterious, and a little disturbing, it has a lot of people wondering if it’s science, chance, or a sign from the heavens.

Here’s the low down if you’ve been missing the headlines over the last few weeks- 3,000 blackbirds fell dead from the sky in Beebe, Arkansas, thousands of crabs are dead near Thanet along the Kent coast, thousands of fish have washed up along the Arkansas River and in Maryland as well, 1,000 turtledoves recently died in Italy with an inexplicable blue stain on their beaks, and in addition to all this madness, large numbers of American Coots were found dead on the Texas Highway Bridge. This is just naming a few of the even more odd occurrences and mass impromptu animal burials that have been taking place.

While all this is certainly undeniably creepy, scientific explanations have been given for each incidence. Whether disease, overeating, or high-altitude storms, everything seems to be attached to a possible reasonable explanation. Scientists have said that either a lack of oxygen or poisoning could have caused the blue stain on the beaks of the turtledoves. If it was a lack of oxygen, scientists also say that this could cause confusion and illness in the animals, ultimately leading to their death. Experts have also said that the blue stains are commonly tied to and could be caused by altitude sickness. Large amounts of discarded sunflower seeds were found nearby on an industrial site, which leads investigators to the possibility of overeating as the cause. Even with all these explanations, it hasn’t left the public completely undisturbed. One local newspaper covering the deaths stated, “Let’s hope it is poisoning or an illness because that would be easier to deal with than it being a sign the world is coming to an end.”

The explanation that is most supported for the massive number of dead fish seems to be disease and unusually cold water. Surface water temperatures in the Chesapeake Bay last month were the coldest recorded in 25 years. The Maryland Department of the Environment made an official statement saying that “natural causes appear to be the reason for the deaths of the fish” in an effort to calm the public’s rising fear of something more sinister.

Conspiracy theorists and religious extremists are, of course, all over these stories. I don’t think any of us can deny a sort of supernatural feel to these instances, but it’s not just extremists and psychics that are considering extreme possibilities here, however. These stories are so incredible that it has simple, every day people entertaining some pretty bizarre ideas to try to explain some of these occurrences, like that of astronauts testing a super sound beam to ward off aliens or the U.S. military conducting experiments with satellite-powered energy weapons. Scientific explanation or not, the gears are turning in the minds of many Americans, all wondering who and what is next.

So far, Ohio is safe from raining bird bodies and Lake Erie’s shores have yet to be covered in fish. However, events in Arkansas and Maryland have shown that this country might not be immune to these bizarre tragedies. Something tells me that the Ohio Division of Wildlife should keep its eyes and ears open because 2011 could turn out to be quite an interesting year…