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Penguin dies on a Brazilian beach after swallowing a face mask

A Magellanic penguin was found lifeless on a Brazilian beach: in its stomach, an N95 face mask. Researchers believe the animal died from ingesting it.

The corpse of a Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) was found on the 9th of September on a beach in São Sebastian, north of São Paulo, in Brazil. The autopsy carried out by the Istituto Argonauta, which is engaged in conservation efforts in coastal areas, found an N95 face mask used for protection against the novel coronavirus in the penguin’s stomach.

Researchers believe the penguin’s death was caused by the face mask’s ingestion. The animal’s body was found in a state of decay, covered in sand. It is likely that the mask was left on the beach on the 7th of September, when many people spent the day there to celebrate Brazil’s Independence Day.

Face masks and gloves invade beaches

Between the months of April and September – the period during which penguins migrate from the Argentinian to the Brazilian coast – conservationists collected 113 face masks along the northern coast of São Paulo. The situation, however, is critical in other parts of the world too, which has led many environmental associations to raise the alarm.

In Italy, which was, at one point, the country worst-affected by the pandemic, data was provided by environmental organisation Legambiente‘s Beach Litter 2020 campaign: in one out of three beaches, gloves, masks and other objects related to the health emergency were found. A good reason to opt for reusable and washable face masks and not dispose of waste in the environment. Let’s not forget to protect the health of our oceans while we protect our own.

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