In Rio De Janeiro, Brazil more than 400 baby penguins have been found dead along the shore. Penguins from Antarctica are being swept from their shores and deposited further north along the South American coast. Strong ocean currents have always brought penguins here but never in the heavy numbers of the past two months.
Local scientists and veterinarians site a number of reasons for the hundreds of dead and dying penguins that they are seeing. The largest oil field in Brazil, Campos, lies just offshore and contributes to a number of penguins that arrive covered in oil. Many believe that pollution is causing these young penguins to become weak. The baby penguins do not have the power to swim against the growing strength of the Antarctica waters. Pollution further destroys the immune system and makes these animals more susceptible to bacteria and disease.
Over-fishing may also play a part. Penguins are being forced further and further to find food. Venturing far from home is causing these penquins to become victims of ocean turbulence. Global warming is also being blamed. The effect on ocean waters is causing greater frequency and magnitude of ocean storms. According to Dee Boersma, a University of Washington zoology professor, shifting ocean currents and temperatures are keeping sardines, anchovies and squid further north causing the penguins to travel further. Starving penguins are common and mothers are having to leave their nests to find food.
Penguins that can be saved are brought to the Niteroi Zoo and nursed back to health. The government regularly returns the Penguins to Antarctica. The military is used to airlift the penquins back south.