“Aflockalypse” — Mass Animal Deaths Now Mapped on Google

by Nancy Atkinson on January 6, 2011

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Screenshot of the Google Maps Aflockalypse maps of mass bird deaths.

You have to admit, the news is a little weird: 5,000 blackbirds falling dead from the sky in Arkansas; tens of thousands of dead fish in Chesapeake Bay; 50-100 dead birds found strewn in lawns in Sweden; 40,000 dead crabs washed up on England’s shores; 530 penguins, numerous other seabirds, five dolphins, and three giant sea turtles dead in Brazil; 200 American Coots dead on a Texas bridge; hundreds of snapper fish dead in New Zealand. And the list keeps growing.

Eerie coincidence? Or just a symptom of the digital age where news travels faster than you can say “The End is Nigh?”

You can now keep track of what is being called “Aflockalypse” on Google Maps.

Google Maps links reports of animal deaths, as well as reports of birds that have succumbed to the bird flu. By clicking on the blue balloons on the map you will be given a link that will provide the original news report. You can also click the links in the left side panel of the map.

The map provides a quick look at where the mass, unexplained deaths are taking place. But some say the map could help solve the mystery, as there has been suggestions the map could be overlaid on a current global oil exploration map to test the hypothesis that the deaths could have been caused by ground penetrating tomography.

This isn’t the first time that unexplained mass animal deaths have occurred — see this article on Time for the “Top 10 Strange Mass Animal Deaths” — but it seems unprecedented to have them happen all over the world within a few days.

Or is it? Others have suggested that the internet age allows us to connect the dots where there are none to be connected. The dead birds in Arkansas on New Years Eve — seemingly the first report of mass animal deaths — have been attributed to them flying through a fireworks display, and there could be logical reasons for the others, too.

Find out more by interacting with the Google Map.


Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Quasy January 7, 2011 at 1:31 AM

So let’s see: articles like:

– Astrophoto: The Seagull Nebula
– Previously Unseen Super-Hot Plasma Jets Heat the Sun’s Corona
– Apollo Data Retooled to Provide Precise Readings on Moon’s Core
– Great View! January 4 Solar Eclipse As Seen From Space

have almost no comments. Those are space related articles. Some of them have really stunning information, and nobody cares. But this crap story (sorry Nancy, but I can’t call this story otherwise; it’s not a scientific study, and it has nothing to do with space; just hypotheses based on circumstantial evidence doesn’t create a theory), this story has already 25 comments. The very large majority of them heading for conspiracy theories and pseudoscience… Is UT looking for more readers regardless the means? Sad. I started reading UT regularly about 3 years ago (and hardly has ever been a day without opening the UT page since then). But these days I find space.com (from which I “migrated” here) to have better and more space oriented articles lately. Less sensationalism and more astronomy, and spaceflight related stuff…

r0blar January 7, 2011 at 2:58 AM

Well you know… it’s a nice Friday easy topic, good fun reading article and comments :)

J. Major January 7, 2011 at 4:52 PM

Ease up.

Olaf January 7, 2011 at 11:27 AM

I have to agree on this. It is already covered big time massively over all newspapers and Internet and conspiracy sites. This article is actually adding more fuel to conspiracy sites and moves away from any science.

Ben Vidgen January 7, 2011 at 3:01 AM

There are several possibilities:

1. Nothing has happened out of the norm at all – other than in the age of the internet its now easier to spot such phenoneonon (and once spotted the media takes on a life of it own).

2. We are witnessing an environmental disaster (notably cluster and first reports do seem to have coincide in states close to the Gulf of Mexico and the BP spills). Have we reached the criical point of toxicity – forecast by scientists over two decades ago.

3. Are are we witnessing a by product of natural atmospheric electromagnetic influences. (see Dr Craig Rogers Otago University Sprites Elves & Blue Jets).

4. Are we witnessing a by product of man made electromagentic technology – there are number of mainstream and offical archive sources (arms treaties to begin with) which make these avenue completely as valid as any other theory put forward to date.

5. Are we witnessing by product of escalated environmental conditions such as sun spots or climate change.

6. Are we witnessing a bilogical event man made (deliberate/accidental/commercial by products) or natural.

7. A combination of all or the above.

The trick to ascertaining what if any of these possibilities would include;

A: Not relying on media reports (journalists are not specialist and even the media will admit that the quality of investigative journalism has taken a dive in recent years following budget cuts nthrough out the industry) but instead obtain primary documents visa autospy results of such incidents (using Freedon of Information, Offical Information acts, open source data bases ect) to confirm if media reports aiuthentic or not.

*****edited for length*****

dwdeclare January 7, 2011 at 6:46 AM

and in the U.S. each year, 38 million cows and calves, 95 million hogs, 5 million sheep and goats, 278 million turkeys, 20 million ducks, and over 7 billion chickens are killed and most of these on enormous mechanized farms that specialize in one species and house hundreds or thousands of animals at a time…and you barely hear a peep about that.

QuantaUniverse.com January 7, 2011 at 2:56 PM

Birds dropping from the sky is evidence that this was a rare event in our lifetime, but is not sufficient in its entirety to justify that another new mass extinction is underway by geologic time scales. Only shallow not deep sea marine life was killed, indicating gamma rays would be shielded by deeper water. openly exposed birds some survivors are strong evidence it came from outer space, but lacking intensity to relentlessly bombard the surface with cosmic rays like during a mass extinction. clearly all incidents happened close to the same Earth’s geographic LATITUDE shown on the map, which reflects magnetic field lines are surrounding and shielding the planet.

Hon. Salacious B. Crumb January 7, 2011 at 3:24 PM

Oh Mr. Muppet! I’ve seen the movie “The Core” too!
(Watch out your words here are not misinterpreted as you might be caught with plagiarism!)

What do you suggest? Put all the birds in Faraday Cages? At least, then they can’t fly away!

Lawrence B. Crowell January 7, 2011 at 9:16 AM

There have always been fishkills. Whale beachings are as old as whales. The whale fossils found in Peru appear to be from beachings that occurred 20 million years ago.

There is an observer bias due to rapid communication technology. Any statistics on the incidence of animila die-offs would have to take that into account in some Bayesian regression. I will leave that to other statistics mavens.

As for post comments, I generally look at all of them. Many might be interesting, but do not cause or inspire me to make comments. I will confess I am more interested in things like cosmology than the lunar interior.


Dark Gnat January 7, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Not a conspiracy theory, but just wondering:

Could the oil still at the bottom of the Gulf of mexico be effecting the food chain? The die-off seem to be following the gulf stream over to england. I think it might be a good idea for compare notes in each of these cases, just in case there is a possible link.

I actually was expecting a delayed mass die-off, as I reckon whatever toxins or contaigions (i.e oil-eating bacteria) that entered the food supply might take a while to make it up the chain. However, I think the time frame might be too long, and there may be a different cause.

Weather patterns may be another possible cause, as cold tempuratures could be disrupting food supplies as well.

Whatever the case, I think it’s premature to write this off as informational/observational bias – just to be on the safe side.

QuantaUniverse.com January 8, 2011 at 8:47 AM

I am wondering how we can shield our homes from cosmic rays, if these massive worldwide deaths continue. Buzz saw flashes of light during an Apollo moon mission, when cosmic rays from a storm unexpectedly hit his eyes, causing him to panic for fear the mission could be in jeopardy if it worsened and they couldn’t see. cosmic rays could hit the eyes of flying birds that are less shielded farther above the ground surface. We can rule out a nearby supernova as a cause, but not the possibilities that more space storms could continue to kill birds, by penetrating the magnetosphere shield for numerous reasons including increasing intensity of gamma ray bursts from distant aligned objects like blazers. it might end soon or could continue to worsen until most birds and fish near the surface die, but hopefully larger animals will not be harmed if things get back to normal space weather soon.

Hon. Salacious B. Crumb January 8, 2011 at 8:52 AM


Paul Eaton-Jones January 13, 2011 at 1:29 AM

Ha ha ha ha.

katie monta January 8, 2011 at 6:48 PM

Are these global mass deaths occurring at or near FRACKING (natural gas) extraction sites?

Paul Eaton-Jones January 13, 2011 at 3:01 AM

Just read on the BBC web-site that the birds which died in Romania died from alcoholic poisoning after eating huge quantities of marca – the grape leftovers from making wine! It seems that fireworks accounted for the deaths of the red-winged blackbirds in Arkansas and the 100 jackdaws found dead in a Swedish town were run over. So let’s all calm down and forget methane, EMP/microwaves/aliens theories shall we?

QuantaUniverse.com January 13, 2011 at 6:26 PM

There are far too many large numbers of death in so many different locations in a brief time, for simple ordinary explanations. the Cosmic Ray theory for mass bird flock panic is that colliding bruises tissue damages occur in flight when birds of a feather flock together, some falling surviving, many blinded by seeing light flashes. Scientific support evidence facts are: the sun is having the deepest solar minimum in over 10 years, and the solar wind speed is the slowest in 50 year record. This reduces the shielding of the earths surface for cosmic rays, which enter more easily into the inner solar system with the flattening current sheath from the sun. Fleshy fish have little protection near the surface.

merachefet January 18, 2011 at 6:57 AM

2 million livestock have been culled in S Korea after foot-and-mouth outbreaks, and Bulgaria is rebuilding its Cold War fence with Turkey after outbreaks there as well. http://bit.ly/fE5oOk

Paul Eaton-Jones January 19, 2011 at 5:48 AM

There are many places where foot & mouth is endemic so reading that 2 million beasts have been culled somewhere is not necessarily newsworthy in this context. It is newsworthy for the particular nation and the poor farmers who have lost out. We had a severe outbreak here in Britain ten years ago that restricted movement and rendered the countryside eerily quiet but nobody thought it was due to most of the ridiculous ideas put forward here.

Koowie May 14, 2011 at 4:59 PM

This has probably happened many times before but with everyone having cameras and videos it’s just captured more.

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