Aflockalypse Now

International media, starved for news during the slow post-Christmas month of January, is having a field day.

About 80 dead pigeons have been found lying on the ground in Quebec, Canada. It's the latest in a series of similar incidents concerning air and seaborne creatures around the world.

The events have sparked a media frenzy, with doomsday predications about the coming of the end of the world.

At first, it was just Arkansas grabbing the world's attention. Then Europe followed suit with mysterious avian deaths in Sweden and more than 1,000 turtle doves found dead in italy.

Experts attempted to calm the public by suggesting “the birds got scared by fireworks” or “flew into trees and cars because of bad weather.” But when a 100,000 dead fish turned up on US shores, that seemed to have opened the floodgates.

For those not very impressed with the scientific explanation, there is always the religious one: fanatical bloggers have once again started flooding the world wide web with “End of Days” posts.

With more and more mysterious deaths around the world – fish in Brazil, Australia and New Zealand, crabs in the UK – the frenzy is growing, and the headlines scream "Aquackalypse!"

These fishy stories look set to continue stealing the media spotlight, at least until scientists have had a chance to examine the dead animals – or the world comes to an end, whichever happens first.

Filmmaker and blogger Danny Schechter believes that it is possible for things to happen in this world that we don’t understand.

“It’s a mystery,” he said.“Scientists say they are looking into it, they are concerned, some of them are more worried than others, but certainly it’s unusual when you have birds dropping from the sky. Bees disappearing, fish turning up dead by the thousands in the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. It’s an environmental phenomenon that we don’t fully understand.”  

Schechter pointed out that there seems to be a pattern to such events. It starts with alarming headlines in the media, followed by a few examples and then “sober conclusions” about “dramatic events” --- and then there is little to no follow up on the stories. 

“If we never find out what really happened, than it is because of the inattention, the amnesia of the media – the refusal to speak to people who are most in the know,” Schechter declared. “All of this is titillation for the public, and yet it could be very serious.”

­While the story is leaving many intrigued, there is nothing unusual in such natural phenomena, said veterinarian Pedro Luis Reyes. 

“It is not the first time that the world is observing such phenomena. It has happened in other countries, too,” he said. “We could also be dealing with some new virus. A sound wave is another possible explanation, but I repeat that a full investigation is needed to establish the cause of what happened and find a scientific explanation for it.”