Mexico says mass bird deaths likely caused by El Niño's hotter waters

Some 300 wild birds of various species were found dead over the weekend along the coasts of Mexico's western states

Updated - June 16, 2023 01:21 pm IST

Published - June 16, 2023 12:03 pm IST

A technician of the National Service of Health, Safety and Agrifood Quality (Senasica) holds a dead bird as the Mexican government says the death of hundreds of birds on the Pacific coast was likely caused by the El Nino climate phenomenon, in Mexico, in this undated handout picture released on June 15, 2023.

A technician of the National Service of Health, Safety and Agrifood Quality (Senasica) holds a dead bird as the Mexican government says the death of hundreds of birds on the Pacific coast was likely caused by the El Nino climate phenomenon, in Mexico, in this undated handout picture released on June 15, 2023. | Photo Credit: Reuters

The deaths of hundreds of wild birds along Mexico's Pacific coast were likely caused by the El Niño climate phenomenon, local authorities said on Thursday, as the country and its surrounding oceans face an intense heat wave.

Some 300 wild birds of various species were found dead over the weekend along the coasts of Mexico's western states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Michoacan, Jalisco, Sonora and Baja California Sur.

Authorities had initially suspected bird flu, but a joint effort from the country's agriculture and environment ministries concluded the most likely reason was warmer oceans resulting from El Niño.

Watch | What are El Niño and La Niña?

The periodic natural phenomenon, which lasts between months and years, warms the Pacific Ocean fuelling tropical cyclones, floods and rainfall across the Americas and elsewhere.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) earlier this month declared that an El Nino is now under way, after three years dominated by the cooler La Nina pattern.

Explained | El Niño, La Niña and changing weather patterns 

Scientists say this year looks particularly worrying, as coupled with climate change, the current phase should see the world grapple with record-high temperatures.

With warmer waters, fish tend to swim lower in search of colder waters, which prevents seabirds from successfully hunting for their food, the ministries said in a statement.

Sea birds were also found dead on the coasts of Peru and Chile, Mexican authorities said.

At least six people have died in Mexico as a result of intense heat this warmer season, according to recent tally from the health ministry. The country is facing a heat wave with temperatures surpassing 43 Celsius (109.4 Fahrenheit) in parts of the country.

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