A South African town witnessed as a swarm of bees suddenly swoop in and kill 63 penguins.
Locals at a colony in Simonstown, right near Cape Town, found the endangered penguins dead on Friday. The penguins’ bodies were studied to determine what exactly occurred on the coast. As of now, it seems as though the penguins were all killed when they were stung multiple times by Cape honey bees.
Bees Kill Group of Endangered Penguins
All evidence currently points to some deadly bee stings as the cause of death. All the birds were found with multiple bee stings and dead bees were littered all over where the penguins had died.
According to CNN, Veterinarian David Roberts the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, said that it may have to do with the fact that many of the bees stings are right around the penguin’s eyes. “This is a very rare occurrence. We do not expect it to happen often, it’s a fluke,” he said.
This area on the bird has no feathers. This thin skin, similar to human fingers, along with their flippers, is where bees targeted the most.
Sadly, this species of penguin is already rapidly on the decline. The African penguins, which are native to the coasts of South Africa and Namibia, are an interesting species. These penguins have beautiful and irregular markings and can let out an exotic screeching voice.
There were once close to a million of these coastal creatures at the beginning of the 20th century. In 2010, species took a sharp decline and there were only 55,000 in existence.
It’s all a very strange and unprecedented situation. Usually, the bees and other wildlife live in harmonious synchrony. “The bees don’t sting unless provoked – we are working on the assumption that a nest or hive in the area was disturbed and caused a mass of bees to flee the nest, swarm and became aggressive,” Dr. Alison Kock, a marine biologist who works for South Africa’s national parks agency, said to BBC.
Scientists continue to monitor the situation and can hopefully prevent any future killings.
Kids Discover Giant Penguin Fossil
While those 63 creatures in South Africa recently passed away, some kids found fossils from a penguin that existed between 27 million and 35 million years ago.
According to Live Science, the fossil discovery comes from a group of Hamilton Junior Naturalist Club members in New Zealand. The bones were in Kawhia Harbor, which is the location of the field trip the group took with JUNATS fossil expert, Chris Templer.
As of now, it is the most complete giant penguin skeleton. It belongs to a bird that stood at about 4.5 feet tall and had a diving specialty. Some of its other exotic features include very long legs and a long beak, both not currently common for penguins. The species of bird is what scientists call the Kairuku waewaeroa.
In modern times, the biggest living species of penguin is the emperor penguin. This bird is about 4 feet tall and will weigh up to 99 pounds. Giant penguins were more common millions of years ago and lived in areas that are now completely underwater.