02/02/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

2,500 Lost Penguins Wash Up, Dead And Alive, In Northern Brazil

BOSTON, Dec 31 (Tierramerica) - Warm ocean currents may have confused some 2,500 penguins from Argentina's Patagonia region that washed up -- dead and alive -- on Brazil's northern coast.

About half the penguins that were found on Brazilian beaches in October were dead, and the others were starving and in very bad shape, said Valeria Ruoppolo, an emergency veterinarian with the International Federation for Animal Welfare (IFAW), in Sao Paulo, who coordinated the rescue of many of the penguins.

"One thing that was different is that the surface of the Atlantic ocean was one degree Celsius warmer. The penguins follow the fish, especially their favourite, the anchovies. Probably what happened this year is the anchovies went deeper into the ocean for the cold water. And the penguins couldn't reach their food and they stranded because they were starving," she said.