Hundreds of the world's smallest penguins have mysteriously washed up dead. What killed them?

Hundreds of the world’s smallest penguins have mysteriously washed up dead. What killed them?

A dead little penguin washed up on a New Zealand beach. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

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More than 500 of the world’s smallest penguins have mysteriously washed up dead on beaches across New Zealand over the past couple of months. Experts aren’t exactly sure what has been killing off such a large number of the adorable seabirds, but they suspect that climate change may have played a role.

Aggregations of deceased little penguins (Eudyptula minor), known locally as kororā, have been washing up on beaches in the country’s North Island since early May, according to The Guardian (opens in new tab). The largest cluster was a group of 183 dead birds that washed up last week on Ninety Mile Beach near Kaitaia; another 109 penguins were found on that same beach in early May. An additional group of around 100 dead penguins also washed up last week on Cable Bay near Nelson, although the exact number is unclear. New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) has now revealed that multiple other die-offs have been reported on beaches across North Island, ranging from a couple to dozens of bodies, The Guardian reported.

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